AT&T, the largest US carrier, is aiming to take over Vodafone, the largest carrier in Europe, according to Bloomberg. Informal talks between the two companies have begun, in a potentially complex deal that would give AT&T a foothold in Europe.
This isn't the first time buyout rumours about Vodafone have surface. In April, the Financial Times reported Verizon and AT&T were jointly looking to buy out the $245 billion Vodafone. Verizon denied the story, and Bloomberg hasn't mentioned AT&T in its most recent reporting - leaving AT&T as the sole proprietor as of now.
If the AT&T-Vodafone deal were to close, it's likely to happen in 2014. The two companies are currently negotiating on which Vodafone assets it would retain after a deal and who could buy others. If a deal with Vodafone doesn't materialise, Bloomberg reports AT&T would look at up-and-coming EE as an alternative target. There is the chance AT&T could walk away from the Vodafone deal, the report says.
It's not clear what regulatory hurdles AT&T would face when buying out the world's second-largest carrier behind China Mobile if the deal were to close. If AT&T and Verizon were to work together, the two would have a more likely chance than AT&T on its own. But the joint deal sounds out of the question right now.
Any deal would have to wait for the conclusion of Vodafone’s sale of its Verizon Wireless stake, which is expected to close in early 2014. It's not clear what changes customers would see immediately, but it would give AT&T and Vodafone more leverage in dealing with phone subsidies from smartphone manufacturers.