February 13, 2012

Vodafone weighing bid for C&W Worldwide

LONDON, Feb 13 – Vodafone Group, the world’s largest mobile operator by revenue, said it was thinking of making an offer for Britain’s Cable & Wireless Worldwide whose fixed-line network could boost bandwidth for its Internet hungry customers.

“Vodafone regularly reviews opportunities in the sector and confirms that it is in the very early stages of evaluating the merits of a potential offer for CWW,” the company said today in response to press speculation.

C&W Worldwide, which has issued a string of profit warnings since its demerger from Cable & Wireless Communications in March 2010, has fixed lines that could be used by mobile operators to shift traffic from straining wireless networks. It declined to comment on Vodafone’s statement.

The stock surged 31 per cent to a three-month high of 25.8 pence today while Vodafone shares rose 0.7 per cent to 174p.

The group’s lines, which are used by British businesses and government departments, could also be deployed by a mobile operator, such as Telefonica’s O2, to offer broadband to consumers and more services to multi-national customers.

Reuters reported last year that Cable & Wireless Worldwide could make a tempting target for mobile phone operators such as Vodafone or O2.

The Sunday Times, which had said that Vodafone was considering a US$1.10 billion (RM3.33 billion) bid for C&W Worldwide, also said private equity firm Apax was interested.

Cable & Wireless Worldwide’s shares, which rose to 98.5 pence when it listed, touched a low of 18 pence in November after a host of writedowns and a halt to dividends. Ex-Vodafone executive Gavin Darby was brought on board to lead a turnaround.

Vodafone said today that any bid would be in cash. – Reuters

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