Vodafone clinches 18.4bn euro deal for Liberty Global assets

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Vodafone has confirmed an 18.4 billion euro (£16.1 billion) deal that will see it snap up a raft of Liberty Global assets across Europe.

The telecoms company announced on Wednesday that it had agreed to acquire operations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania in a move that  accelerates its “converged communications strategy”.

The British business said the assets will help it become “the leading next generation network owner in Europe” with a total reach of 110 million homes and businesses, including wholesale arrangements.

Vodafone expects the deal to close around mid-2019.

“This transaction will create the first truly converged pan-European champion of competition”, Vodafone Group chief executive Vittorio Colao said.

“We are committed to accelerating and deepening investment in next generation mobile and fixed networks, building on Vodafone’s track record of ensuring that customers benefit from the choice of a strong and sustainable challenger to dominant incumbent operators.

“Vodafone will become Europe’s leading next generation network owner, serving the largest number of mobile customers and households across the EU.”

Vodafone shares were up more than 2% at the start of trading.

The company said the takeover of Liberty Global’s Unitymedia assets in Germany will create “a strong second national provider of digital infrastructure” and a “national challenger to the dominant incumbent”, Deutsche Telekom.

The acquisition of other assets including UPC Czech, UPC Hungary and UPC Romania will increase its presence in central and eastern European markets, reaching around 39% of households and serving 15.8 million mobile customers.

The deal is set to comprise a cash consideration of 10.8 billion euro (£9.5 billion) paid to Liberty Global, and 7.6 billion euro (£6.7 billion) of existing Liberty Global debt.

Cost and capital expenditure synergies are expected to total around 535 million euro (£469 million) per year – before integration costs – by the fifth year.

Vodafone said it “looks forward to bringing together the leading talent in the sector in all four countries”.

Management and employees from Liberty Global “will have the opportunity to play an integral role within the combined company in each country”, and “benefit from a broader range of international career opportunities available across the Vodafone Group”, the company said.

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