LONDON -- In the latest edition of this long-running story, it has been suggested that Vodafone (LSE: VOD ) (NASDAQ: VOD ) could use a substantial amount of the money it would receive from selling its stake in Verizon Wireless to fund a takeover of Liberty Global (NASDAQ: LBTYA ) .
Analysts at Citigroup have declared that an acquisition would be both within Vodafone's reach, and also align with CEO Vittorio Colao's long-term strategy of the company becoming a one-stop shop by offering Internet and television services to customers on its existing mobile network.
For Vodafone, Liberty Global could have strategic advantages giving it a strong portfolio of northern European cable assets, rebalancing the group away from Southern Europe and providing it with a high speed broadband offering, cost synergy, an upgrade path for its own broadband customers and network backhaul options.
Liberty is currently negotiating a purchase of Virgin Media, which would instantly offer Vodafone a television service in the U.K. should it acquire the U.S. cable and telecoms company.
With increasingly louder noises emanating from Verizon Communications about an interest in bringing its joint-venture with Vodafone under its sole wing, a bandied-about figure of between 65 billion pounds and 85 billion pounds would more than cover a takeover of Liberty, which is valued at around 50 billion pounds -- and, importantly for investors, still return a large proportion of that excess takeover cash to shareholders.
Another player has been (perhaps unwittingly) drawn into this arena, then. There was little movement in Vodafone's shares upon the announcement, as they still hover near 197 pence and close to breaking the 200 pence mark, not seen since November 2011. Investors remain waiting for some concrete news, though, hoping for a sizable return on top of the consensus yield of around 5% that Vodafone currently offers.
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