Thursday, 1 March 2007

More M&A imminent?

It looks like there may be a bit more M&A activity coming up in Europe. Deutsche Telekom has announced its plans to expand internationally, and not just in the territories in which it's already present. Tier 2 operators beware. So who are the targets? The biggest footprint gaps in Europe seem to be:
  • Nordic markets - rampant competition pretty much rules it out
  • More expansion to the east - adding to Poland, Czech Rep, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia (sorry FYR Macedonia - mustn't upset the Greeks and Bulgarians) - this has some potential. Other Balkans markets may become a target and possibly Ukraine. Few would touch Russia with a barge-pole after the troubles other inward investors have had.
  • The south. Few potential targets in Spain, but Telecom Italia may be a target again. That didn't work out too well last time though. But, what with TI refocusing on becoming a media brand with Alice and regulatory issues with providing FMC services, TI seems to be seriously considering disposing of TIM. This may also interest Telefonica, which is in talks to take a stake in TI.
Also, Sonaecom has declared its interest in merging with Vodafone if its unsuccessful in acquiring Portugal Telecom. To be honest I'm quite shocked the regulator would allow this anyway. Only three operators in a saturated market. Admittedly one of the conditions would have been to make spectrum available to another operator, but any new entrant (if anyone's brave enough) would take years to reach any kind of scale. Yoigo in Spain has its work cut out and it's focusing very much on the low end of the market. 78k subs in 3 months is no mean feat though. I'd also be surprised if Vodafone wanted to sell out of Portugal.

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