Liberty linked to asset sales as Vodafone merger rumours resurface

James Pearce
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Reports claim Liberty Global is looking to offload its Swiss and Austrian units, reigniting rumours it could ultimately try for a merger with Vodafone

Rumours about a further tie-up between Vodafone and Liberty Global have resurfaced following reports that the latter telco has begun exploring a sale of its Swiss and Austrian units.

The Telegraph claims John Malone-owned Liberty has begun early discussions about selling cable and fixed arms UPC Austria and UPC Switzerland, with mobile firm Salt (formerly Orange Switzerland) named as a potential bidder, in a move that will reignite talks of a potential deal with Vodafone.

Citing unnamed sources, the Telegraph claims the talks are at a preliminary stage and may not lead to a deal. The units have also been struggling, with customer numbers in its Swiss arm falling around 2% according to its latest financial results.

Liberty and Vodafone have long been linked with a deal after talks between the two firms in 2015 ultimately collapsed. Vodafone and Liberty did go on to strike a partnership in the Netherlands, which became VodafoneZiggo.

Vodafone does not have any operations in either country, so Liberty offloading its assets can only be judged as a recalibration of their businesses aimed at making a potential merger easier in that context.

Reports earlier in the year claimed talks about further tie-up opportunities had begun, although this did not ultimately lead anywhere, and the Telegraph report claims no talks are currently underway.