Business Irish

Thursday 18 January 2018

Malone hangs on for Vodafone deal

John Malone
John Malone

Robert LaFranco and Kristen Schweizer

UPC owner Liberty Global is still searching for common ground over an exchange or combination of assets with Vodafone Group, according to John Malone, the cable company's billionaire chairman. The stalemate lingers months after the disclosure of talks between the pay-TV and mobile phone giants.

"Conceptually there could be some real value created but realistically we haven't been able to figure out a way to do that that's mutually successful," the 74-year-old said in a phone interview late last week.

"That doesn't mean that we won't find a solution, nor does it imply that we will."

Comparing the discussions between Liberty Global and Vodafone to a "tennis match" of ideas, Malone said there's been no proposed structure for a deal that either side could pitch to shareholders.

Vodafone, said in June it was in talks to swap assets with Liberty Global. People familiar with the matter said at the time the companies were discussing a range of potential transactions including an exchange of assets, combining their western European businesses. Vodafone said it wasn't negotiating a full merger.

John Malone has been on a deal making spree in recent years. He has personally snapped up hotels and country mansions in Ireland while Liberty Global added TV3 to its Irish unit over the summer, and built a 10pc stake in Britain's ITV. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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