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[February 01, 2014]
Agenda Foreign predators and a marketing push: BY SIMON GOODLEY: MAKING THE NEWS: Vodafone looks ready for a foreign caller
(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) "The recipe for being a leader today is to . . . never take anything for granted . . . and be very curious about change because one day change will affect your company". So said Vodafone chief exec Vittorio Colao in an advertisement to attract new punters to the Bocconi School of Management in Milan - so let's hope the students were listening, as the line seems rather prophetic now.
Change will be the theme of the mobile phone group's trading statement this week, as the company is handing investors pounds 50bn of the proceeds from the sale of its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless - meaning that many in the City reckon Vodafone has now set itself up as a takeover target.
American giant AT&T, which is struggling in the US, is scanning Europe, and while it's been forced to rule out a hostile bid for six months, few believe that it's really hung up on a deal. Japan's SoftBank and China Mobile are also supposedly on the line, and the betting is that giant Vodafone (routinely the most traded share on the FTSE 100) will not be independent in a couple of years time.
Such a deal might prompt wails about another large British firm falling into foreign hands, although that would seem a bit rich. The Vodafone of today was effectively the result of its mammoth acquisition of Mannesmann - which was German.
Captions: Vittorio Colao: ready to ring the changes? (c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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