Vodafone and UPC's owner plan massive European telecom deal
Millions of Irish consumers might be immunised from asset swap talks under way between telecom giants Vodafone and UPC owner Liberty Global.
Vodafone has confirmed the pair are in negotiations that could eventually see them swap some "selected assets", but has insisted the two companies aren't involved in merger talks.
Vodafone has over two million customers in Ireland, while UPC has about 511,000. UPC's customer base includes roughly 386,000 TV customers.
Liberty Global is headed by Irish-American billionaire John Malone, who has spent a fortune buying up prime properties and hotels in Ireland over the past few years.
Although Liberty Global and Vodafone have operations across Europe, it's believed the primary focus for any swap will be on the UK and Germany.
Industry insiders say the targets are probably operations in those two countries.
An industry banker said he believed that Vodafone's primary interest is in acquiring Liberty's UK arm Virgin Media, while the main attraction for Liberty is Vodafone's German cable business. Liberty owns Unitymedia, Germany's second-biggest cable operator, and has long coveted its bigger rival Kabel Deutschland, which Vodafone bought in 2013. (Additional reporting: Reuters)