Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Vodafone: going for synergies or convergence?

With all the management changes and selling of assets (Japan, US, Australia), the question is: what's next for Vodafone?

It seems the choice is:
  • Try to finally extract those synergies and, at least for the time being, continue on the wireless path, aiming for mobile substitution. Perhaps this takes new management once again, after the Christmas quarter disappointed and left Vodafone behind most competitors.
  • Give up completely and sell all your assets. There will be plenty of interest. It could be good for shareholders, but who would ever seriously contemplate this option?
  • Or: come on PE guys, let's see those GBP 100m. The balance sheet is clean, there's lots to sell, management can be replaced and the stock is dirt cheap.
  • Fight mobile substitution with fixed/mobile convergence. A UMTS/HSDPA box could be an interim strategy, but not for the long run. You need a fixed line partner. A reseller with some reach (Tele2, debitel), cable companies (Liberty Global, Ono/Auna, Casema), or those private equity guys that by now have scrambled together a rich portfolio of smaller PTTs and altnets throughout Europe. And of course, there are other options: BT in the UK (current partner in BT Fusion), Arcor in Germany (subsidiary), Neuf Cegetel in France (sister company), FastWeb in Italy (for sale).
  • Deploy WiMAX.

Until there is some clarity, this is a high-risk stock.

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