Vodafone Passes on Verizon

Speculation about possible takeover attempts seems to be mushrooming on Wall Street these days. Investors got an earful early this week, with unofficial reports that global wireless operator and Motley Fool Inside Value selection Vodafone (NYSE: VOD  ) was interested in coughing up a staggering $160 billion to acquire U.S.-based Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ  ) . The rumor easily tops last week's conjectures about another foreign operator, Motley Fool Global Gains pick SK Telecom (NYSE: SKM  ) , buying struggling U.S. carrier Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) .

As SK Telecom did with the Sprint Nextel rumor, Vodafone quickly denied any interest in acquiring Verizon. Still, investors bid up shares of Verizon almost 3% at one point on Monday, on volume 50% higher than average, showing that some investors took the speculation seriously. At the very least, the rumor renewed thoughts that someone might be interested in paying a premium for Verizon's assets.

But I have trouble coming to any logical line of reasoning that Vodafone -- a company heavily focused on wireless -- would swallow a telecom behemoth like Verizon lock, stock, and barrel. If such a deal were to happen, Vodafone would be managing a slow-growing fixed-line business with an aggressive -- and capital-intensive -- deployment plan for Verizon's broadband-via-fiber-optics service, FiOS.

While Verizon's wireless division is a gem of a property, Vodafone is not well-equipped to manage a huge push into next-generation broadband. The company itself espouses this strategy with regard to fixed-line operations: "We will continue to pursue a mobile centric approach, focusing on the core benefits to customers of mobility and personalisation, and will resell fixed line technologies only according to customer needs."

The company clearly has no acquisitive ambitions in the fixed-line space, and a deal to buy the fixed-line units, then promptly spin them off, would add significant risk and distraction to the core mobile business. Shareholders have been very vocal lately in encouraging Vodafone to stay away from any more risky acquisitions. While AT&T (NYSE: T  ) has shown some recent success in consolidating massive telecom acquisitions, Vodafone's recent ventures haven't worked out so well. It's taken huge write-offs in recent years.

While the rumored acquisition plan makes great headlines, and whips up a lot of speculation, it shouldn't fundamentally change the way investors view either company.

Vodafone is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. To see what other stocks the market-beating service is recommending, check out a free 30-day trial today.

Fool contributor Dave Mock gets whipped up pretty easy, but falls from his high just as fast. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Dave is the author ofThe Qualcomm Equation. The Fool's disclosure policy tells it like it is.


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