Liberty Global acquires Vodafone stake
February 14, 2023
By Colin Mann
Liberty Global has acquired 1.335 billion shares in Vodafone Group PLC, representing 4.92 per cent of the outstanding share capital (excluding treasury shares). The transaction was principally funded through an attractive non-recourse financing, requiring equity funding from Liberty Global of approximately £225 million (€254m).
“We believe, like many others, that Vodafone’s current share price does not reflect the underlying long-term value of their operating businesses, or their announced consolidation and infrastructure opportunities,” commented Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global. “We continue to remain disciplined about our capital and fully expect that the equity used to fund this investment will be replenished with the sale of certain non-core assets over time.”
No regulatory approvals are required for an investment at this level and Liberty Global does not intend to seek board representation at Vodafone.
Liberty Global is a joint venture partner with Telefónica in UK multiplay operator Virgin Media O2, while its other interests include a joint venture with Vodafone in The Netherlands (VodafoneZiggo).
“The stock’s cheap, it’s an opportunistic and financial investment,” Fries told the Financial Times, adding that his company had $3.5 billion in cash to “put to work”.
Fries revealed that talks are continuing regarding a proposed merger with CK Hutchison’s British mobile business Three UK. “We only have one market with four mobile players, everyone else has consolidated to three, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland. The UK is an anomaly,” he said.