Vodafone crosses Malta off its list of quad play mergers with €500m merger

Oliver Gill
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Vodafone finalised a €3.5bn merger with Dutch firm Ziggo in November 2016

Vodafone has agreed a €506m (£436m) tie-up with a cable, broadband and TV provider in Malta, the latest market to be shaken up by the telecoms giant.

Announced today, Vodafone Malta will join forces with Melita. The deal is subject to sign-off by Maltese regulators and expected to complete in the second half of the year.

Vodafone has a mobile network that delivers 4G coverage across 99 per cent of the island. Melita provides a range of services that include internet broadband speeds of up to 250 megabits per second. It is backed by UK private equity firm Apax Partners.

Read more: Vodafone attempts to draw a line under a turbulent year

The combined company will operate under the Vodafone brand but will be led by current Melita chief executive Harald Rosch. Shares will be split 51 per cent to 49 per cent in favour of Melita.

The tie-up comes a week after Vodafone revealed a re-jig of its corporate structure in southern Africa.

The FTSE 100 firm chose to move a €2.4bn stake in Kenyan firm Safaricom to one of its majority-owned subsidiaries, South African-based firm Vodacom. In return, Vodafone received an increased interest in the Johannesburg headquartered outfit.

Quad play

Quad play, where telecoms firms combine broadband, TV, telephone and mobile services, enables companies to boost sales by bundling services together. It is seen by some as an integral to success in particularly competitive markets.

Last year Vodafone completed a multi-billion euro quad play merger with Dutch firm Ziggo. The partnership brought Vodafone together with Ziggo's owner, US giant Liberty Global.

In the UK, Vodafone operates in mobile and fixed line markets. It had previously planned to launch a TV offering but has also been linked to a partnership with Virgin Media, also owned by Liberty Global.

Read more: Vodafone shakes up African ops with €2.4bn Safaricom transfer

Last week Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao said no active negotiations were taking place with Liberty Global.

And this week Vodafone execs have hosted a number of analyst roadshows. On Tuesday Jonathan Dann, an analyst at RBC Capital markets, concluded: "Liberty [Global] still holds the most obvious overlap/solution."

Meanwhile today Jefferies analyst Jerry Dellis said Vodafone "continues to believe it is strategically aligned with Liberty Global and that synergies would be huge".

He added finance chief Nick Read pointed out alternatives to Liberty Global, such as Sky's broadband offering if it were jettisoned following 21st Century Fox's proposed takeover of the UK firm.

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