Vodafone takeover ruled out by US network AT&T - for now

Despite looking to get in on the 4G action in Europe, US network AT&T won't buy Vodafone -- at least not in the next six months.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Vodafone won't be snapped by US rival AT&T any time soon. Despite looking to get in on the 4G mobile broadband action in Europe, the American network says it won't be plonking down cash for Vodafone in the next six months.

Under the auspices of the UK Takeover Code, companies are required to give written notice if they plan to swoop in for a British company, with AT&T informing the London Stock Exchange that it isn't planning a bid.

However, the US network could change its mind if someone else starts sniffing around Vodafone.

"Any move into Europe would have a steep learning curve," says industry expert Daniel Gleeson of IHS. "While AT&T has said it is looking for international expansion, it could see an operator the size of Vodafone as taking on too much too soon.

"Vodafone may not be the engine of growth that AT&T is looking for either. Vodafone has already embarked on an expensive investment program as well, and revenues have stagnated in its European operations despite huge investment in new 4G networks."

AT&T is the second-largest American network, after Verizon Wireless. Vodafone is in the process of shedding its stake in Verizon, which could open it to a takeover from AT&T -- which is in turn reported to be looking to get into the European phone market.

Other possible targets for AT&T include EE, the biggest network in the UK after Orange and T-Mobile combined into one. The folks at EE recently revealed that they've shelved plans to float on the Stock Exchange because they believe the company is only going to go up in value on the back of its growing 4G network.

How will this affect you if you're on Vodafone? At the moment it won't mean much of a change. But in the long run, networks joining forces can give you access to wider services. When Orange and T-Mobile teamed up, for example, customers of both networks could use the other's masts, improving coverage for some. An international tie-up could lead to better deals on roaming when you're abroad.

But on a less positive note, there's always the possibility that takeovers and mergers could lead to job losses.

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