Vodafone could soon be owned by US network AT&T. Bloomberg reports that AT&T's execs are laying the groundwork for a potential takeover next year.
People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the two companies haven't yet started negotiations, but that AT&T is "intensifying work" on which of Voda's assets it could snaffle in a deal, and who would buy the others. And if that doesn't work out, AT&T has got UK 4G pioneer EE in its sights, too, according to the source. So either way, the Americans are coming.
I've "reached out" (as the Americans say) to AT&T and Vodafone for comment, and will update this story if they "circle back".
If the two companies were to merge, then by sales, they would form the world's largest telecommunications operator. With more than 500 million customers worldwide, it would likely be in a stronger position to negotiate better subsidies from the likes of Google and Apple to offer their handsets, too. Which would hopefully mean lower prices for us punters, but don't hold your breath for that.
It's not the first time AT&T has eyed up Vodafone. It approached fellow US network Verizon earlier this year, suggesting they team up to tackle Vodafone together -- AT&T would buy Voda's European operations, while Verizon would take over its wireless joint-venture. Then wireless provider America Movil SAB would snaffle what's left. But Verizon said no dice.
That's probably because Verizon was busy buying back Vodafone's US stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion, and it knew a deal this complex would slow down its negotiations.
Phew. All these big-money deals. It's enough to make your head spin.