Vodafone has acquired Liberty Global’s cable networks spanning Germany and eastern Europe in a deal valued at €18.4bn, its largest single acquisition since acquiring Germany’s Mannesmann in 2000 for a whopping £112bn.
The pair have long been rumoured to be courting as part of wider consolidation efforts in European telecoms and today’s deal will hand Liberty a war chest of €10.6bn in cash with which to beef up its remaining markets in the UK and Switzerland.
Liberty chief executive Michael T Fries welcomed Vodafone’s expansion in Germany to provide greater competition for Deutsche Telekom, which operates with a near monopoly in the country, saying: ‘Germany is screaming for a challenger which it doesn’t have today’.
Deutsche Telekom and German broadcasters are likely to mount a vociferous rearguard effort to derail the takeover however, which also faces a regulatory test as authorities gauge the market impact of any such move.
For his part, Fries remains convinced that the merger will sail through, securing clearance by mid 2019.
Vodafone's expansion sights stretch far beyond Europe however, with the telecoms giant pledging to bring 4G services to the Moon in an apparent publicity stunt.