Vodafone Eyeing Takeover of Germany's Kabel Deutschland (Report)

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John Malone

John Malone's Liberty Global is also thought to be considering a bid for Germany's leading cable group.

COLOGNE, Germany -- Mobile-phone giant Vodafone is considering a takeover bid for Kabel Deutschland, Germany's largest cable company, according to a report In The Wall Street Journal Deutschland.

Both Vodafone and Kabel Deutschland have declined comment and the report says Vodafone itself has not yet decided when, and if, it will make an offer for the cable group. But the news is certain to increase the buzz around a possible buyout of Kabel Deutschland, which serves 8.5 subscribers in Germany. Earlier this year, unconfirmed reports had Vodafone milling a $13 billion (€10 billion) bid for the provider as part of the mobile group's attempt to expand its fixed-line business, currently a tiny portion of its overall operations.

Many analysts thought a buyout was off the table following last month's announcement that Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, Germany's leading Internet service provider, struck a deal whereby Vodafone will offer pay TV to Telekom's broadband customers.

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The boundary between fixed and mobile media services is getting increasingly blurry in Europe, with companies on both sides of the traditional barrier moving to offer so-called quad play, in which subscribers pay a single monthly fee for high-speed Internet, mobile, TV and fixed-line telephone services.

John Malone's Liberty Global, which owns Germany's second-largest cable company with some 7 million subscribers, is also thought to be considering a bid for Kabel Deutschland. Liberty, which has expanded rapidly across Europe, most recently with a megabillion dollar deal to acquire Virgin Media in the U.K., has made it clear that it may target mobile networks in the future.