Breakingviews

Vodafone and Liberty get square peg in round hole

February 16, 2016

A Dutch venture between the UK mobile giant and John Malone’s cable group looks almost too neat. Valuations match perfectly, management will be shared. Vodafone probably sacrificed a bit of value, but with 3.5 bln euros in synergies, it works for both.

Global smartphone brands face mass extinction

December 23, 2015

The industry’s growth has slipped below 10 pct for the first time. Apple and Samsung’s high-end phones are taking most of the spoils while upstarts like China’s Xiaomi pick up first-time buyers. Loss-making brands like HTC and Sony may be forced to conclude the game is over.

Ambani towers pact sets up Indian telco comeback

December 7, 2015

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications could halve its $6 bln net debt with the sale of its telecom towers. A string of recent deals - and closer ties with his richer older brother - mean the tycoon is almost ready to do battle in the next round of India’s costly mobile war.

Indian telco M&A calls for closer Ambani ties

November 3, 2015

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications is buying the Indian unit of Sistema, giving the country’s fourth mobile operator extra spectrum. That makes indebted RCom a more attractive partner for an upstart led by brother Mukesh. A deeper alliance would seal the siblings’ truce.

Hostile bid makes best TV in U.S. broadcast fight

September 28, 2015

Nexstar wants to buy Media General for $4.1 bln, breaking up the latter’s agreed merger with Meredith. The new offer makes financial sense for Media General owners and would create a local TV player minus the baggage of magazines. The mystery is why Nexstar wasn’t first choice.

Altice keeps powder dry in $18 bln Cablevision bid

September 17, 2015

Patrick Drahi’s telecoms group is buying its second U.S. cable operator to become the fourth-largest player. The valuation looks high but savings will help. Importantly, Altice isn’t contributing much cash. Possible co-investment with private equity could reduce costs further.

Beware a bluff from poker-playing Dish boss

June 4, 2015

Charlie Ergen would be making a bold bet by merging his $35 bln U.S. satellite operator with similarly-sized wireless provider T-Mobile US. Given the spectrum Dish has accumulated, a deal could make sense. Ergen has proven wily, though, and plays his cards very carefully.

Avago offers textbook case for chip consolidation

May 28, 2015

The serial acquirer is buying semiconductor rival Broadcom for more than $36 bln. Cost cuts should just about cover the 30 pct premium. Avago’s track record, the cash-and-stock mix and the logic of industry mergers all add up, too. Only an interloper could spoil the party.

Time Warner Cable finds money covers Charter flaws

May 26, 2015

CEO Rob Marcus rejected a bid from his smaller rival last year, balking at the leverage, cash and stock on offer. Those terms haven’t changed much but the price has gone up appreciably, to $56 bln. Time Warner Cable provides a reminder about what really matters in deal talks.

Altice’s $9 bln U.S. foray shows controlled ambition

May 20, 2015

Patrick Drahi’s telecoms group is paying 10.1 times EBITDA to enter the U.S. cable market. But cost-cutting should reduce the multiple, and it could be a springboard for further consolidation. It’s a more conservative step than another mooted deal: a tilt at Time Warner Cable.