Vodafone moves for Kabel Deutschland in quad-play push
By Kate Holton and Peter Maushagen
LONDON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - British mobile firm Vodafone is pursuing Kabel Deutschland after having an initial 7.2 billion euro ($9.6 billion) bid proposal knocked back by Germany's biggest cable operator, sources close to the matter said on Wednesday.
The world's second-biggest mobile operator has long been linked with a move for Kabel Deutschland, which operates in its most important European market and would help it to meet growing demand from customers for television, broadband, mobile and fixed-line services - so-called "quad play" - from one provider.
Vodafone sent a letter by email to Kabel Deutschland last week announcing its interest and indicating a price of 81 euros per share, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
That proposal, which was a 10 percent premium to last week's price, was deemed to be too low by Kabel Deutschland, four sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity,
Those sources said the talks were amicable - with the firms issuing identical statements to confirm the approach, without giving any details - suggesting further contacts were likely.
One Kabel Deutschland shareholder, who also declined to be named, said Vodafone's offer "must begin with a 9" euros per share, which would take it to about 8 billion euros.
Any deal, which would be Vodafone's largest since 2007, could help it better compete against mobile operators, which are cutting prices, and against the pan-European cable group Liberty Global, which has been on an acquisition spree.
Analysts said U.S. tycoon John Malone's Liberty Global could make a counterbid for Kabel Deutschland, though they added it would likely face greater regulatory scrutiny than Vodafone because it already owns Unitymedia in Germany. Continued...