Monday, December 11, 2017

7 Predictions for 2018 for the Dutch market: consolidation, newcomers and an IPO

1. T-Mobile NL/Tele2 NL a strong #3
This merger seems inevitable. What is more intriguing, is options for creating an even stronger challenger to the KPN/VodafoneZiggo 'duopoly'. Candidates include the M7 Group (Canal Digitaal, Online, Stipte, Fiber NL) and EQT's Dutch assets (Delta, CIF, Caiway).

2. VodafoneZiggo IPO
Greater independence from the 50/50 parent companies would instantly create value. Hundreds of millions of euros are extracted from the company every year.
Alternatively, either Vodafone or Liberty Global could buy out its fellow shareholder, but this seems unlikely. Both are actively trying to get rid of assets in countries where there is no overlap.

3. KPN creating PTT network
KPN will want to be part of a new wave of consolidation. Most multinationals are ruled out, for various reasons (Orange not looking to expand its footprint, Altice not in takeover mood currently, etc). Bloomberg recently suggested Proximus, TDC and Elisa could be partners. In fact, there could be many more in this league (Swisscom, Eir, Telenor).

4. KPN will start losing broadband market share
Leapfrogging is rather predictable. ADSL, Docsis 3.0, VDSL and next .... Docsis 3.1. Once VodafoneZiggo turns on Docsis 3.1, it may herald a new phase of growth. KPN's broadband market share will decline and at some point it may relaunch FTTH and do a number of small takeovers to regain share.

5. Eurofiber to bid in 5G auctions
Eurofiber is actively exploring value-creating innovation. It has an extensive fiber network, connecting anything (including bridges & traffic lights) outside the FTTH segment. A 5G network could be devised as wholesale-only. The company could consider bidding through a consortium with T-Mobile/Tele2.

6. Talpa Netwerk to bid for Eredivisie summaries
John de Mol, having sold part of his assets to ITV, has re-created a wide-ranging media company, Talpa Netwerk (TV, radio, streaming video & music, web, events). It appears as a no-brainer to buy the very valuable Eredivisie summaries for the SBS channels.

7. Subsidisation moving to high-value plans
Operators will start realising that subsidisation (handsets, mobile data, content) may reduce churn but destroys value by offering it to all subscriptions. Vodafone's Passes may be too expensive for the Dutch market, but the concept or providing benefits to high-value plans deserves to be copied.