Vodafone Group Plc (VOD), the second- largest mobile-phone company, plans to offer bundles of wireless, Web, television and phone service across Europe as it steps up competition with cable rivals.
“I’d like to provide pan-European unified services” to consumers and businesses, Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao said in a meeting with reporters at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today.
Some of those agreements will be through partnerships with other network providers, he said. Vodafone has also considered making an offer for German cable television company Kabel Deutschland Holding AG (KD8), people familiar with the matter said this month. Colao declined to comment on specific discussions.
Billionaire John Malone’s Liberty Global Inc. (LBTYA) this month entered Newbury, England-based Vodafone’s home market with a $16 billion agreement to acquire Virgin Media Inc. Liberty Global also owns two major cable operators in Germany.
Europe’s telecommunications companies are preparing to ask the European Commission to allow more mergers within individual countries in exchange for their backing for the regulator’s push to develop a regional market, according to people familiar with the matter. Colao said he will speak to the commission’s digital agenda head, Neelie Kroes, in a meeting tomorrow.
More combinations will make Europe’s telecommunications companies more competitive and improve revenue, which has declined for several carriers on the continent, Colao said. He said he plans to speak with Kroes about consolidation, the rules around spectrum allocation and the economics of rolling out faster, fourth-generation networks.
“It’s obvious to any chief executive who works in the telecom business, Europe has a fantastic opportunity,” Colao said.
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