Vodafone springs onto Merrion stock picks

The cash-rich company has its eyes on the 4G prize across Europe

One to watch. Vodafone is on the acquisitions warpath. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA

One to watch. Vodafone is on the acquisitions warpath. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA

Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 01:30

With its massive acquisitions war chest and growing interest in content partnerships, the question “what will Vodafone do?” should be hovering above the boardroom tables of the major players across the telecommunications and media industry.

The Newbury, UK-based company has been named as one of Merrion Stockbrokers’ top 10 stock picks for the third quarter of 2014, and with good reason: Vodafone is using the substantial proceeds of the sale of its stake in Verizon Wireless to snap up companies such as Kabel Deutschland (for €7.7 billion) and Spanish cable operator Ono (with a price tag of €7.2 billion).

“Both deals provide significant bundling opportunities coupled with material synergies from the combined operations of the companies,” the Merrion analysts note.

In other words, Vodafone, the world’s second-largest mobile carrier, has yet to fully show its hand in the great, revenue-spinning telecoms-television convergence story.

The company, which is getting into bed with ESB on a €450 million fibre-optic broadband joint venture in Ireland, has embarked on an international 4G investment programme called Project Spring, while it has also formed alliances with ascendant entertainment platforms such as Netflix and Spotify.