Liberty Global, Vodafone in Talks About Asset Swaps

John Malone in 2012 - H 2015
Associated Press

Vodafone emphasizes it was "not in discussions with Liberty Global concerning a combination of the two companies."

U.K. telecom giant Vodafone Group said Friday it was in talks on a possible exchange of assets with John Malone's international cable operator Liberty Global amid continued consolidation talks in the cable and telecommunications sectors.

Vodafone emphasized though that the two companies were not in talks about a merger.

"Vodafone confirms that it is in the early stages of discussions with Liberty Global regarding a possible exchange of selected assets between the two companies," Vodafone said. It didn't provide further details, but both companies have operations in Western Europe, including in the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands, that analysts have previously said could potentially be combined or swapped.

"There is no certainty that any transaction will be agreed, nor is there certainty with respect to which assets will ultimately be involved," the company added.

The statement added: "Vodafone is not in discussions with Liberty Global concerning a combination of the two companies."

Bloomberg News had earlier reported talks between the two companies about possible deals, including a merger.

Last year, there was market chatter that Vodafone could be planning a takeover of Liberty Global, led by chairman Malone and CEO Mike Fries. Over the years, analysts and bankers have repeatedly suggested some kind of deal between the companies.

Liberty Global has focused on offering a broad portfolio of services, making broadband its key focus. Vodafone has, meanwhile, been looking at cable assets as the cable and telecom industries continue to look to offer a range of services to consumers, from pay TV and broadband to telephony and wireless.

Vodafone in 2013 struck a deal to acquire Kabel Deutschland, Germany's largest cable operator, for $10.1 billion, beating out Liberty Global. At the time, there was talk that this asset could become the topic of conversations between the companies.

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