Some questions and conclusions:
- Obviously, this would be much like NTL/Virgin in the UK. Also, the upcoming cooperation of Comcast et al with Sprint Nextel comes to mind. More broadly speaking: re-absorption of mobile assets into PTTs (France Telecom/Orange, TI/TIM, Telefonica/TEM, AT&T/Cingular, etc.), or even the IPOs-that-never-happened of KPN Mobile, T-Mobile, etc.
- Who else could be a buyer, should FT actually start an auction process for Orange NL? Obviously, T-Mobile and Vodafone are candidates (KPN already controls more than 50% of the market after buying Telfort). Telefonica could want to be a newcomer. Another would be Tele2/Versatel or Scarlet or Belgacom.
- Where does this leave Wanadoo, busy unbundling the KPN network? By the way, what will happen to Easynet NL and BBned?
- Should FT sell Orange NL (and Wanadoo NL), its international focus is reduced to just 4 countries: France, UK, Spain, Poland. Could it be a step toward focus on large countries? In that case, look out for deals in Germany (E-Plus, Arcor) and Italy (Wind, FastWeb).
- Would FT feel sorry for selling UPC-competitor Casema? FT bought it in 1997 for EUR 410m and sold in December 2002 to Providence/Carlyle for EUR 700m.
- Liberty Media dropped out of the Casema auction in 2002, because the regulator was opposed to a deal (Liberty controlled UPC, now through Liberty Global). How would the NMa feel about cable consolidation now? Would it follow the UK model (NTL + Telewest) or the US model (little space for Comcast to grow by acquisition).
- Will UPC/Liberty Global follow the News/Sky strategy, and possibly the new Vodafone strategy, aimed more at convergence (Sky + Easynet)? Obviously, UPC already bought an Austrian BB operator, but it hasn't ventured into the mobile/quad play arena yet (except as an MVNO). Perhaps a pan-European mobile asset would be more attractive to UPC: Vodafone, Tele2.