Vodafone & Telenor Call For More EU Telecom M&A

Britain’s Vodafone and Norway’s Telenor urged policymakers on Wednesday, February 2, to allow European mobile operators to merge and spend more on networks to keep pace with peers in the United States and Asia, reported Reuters.

European telecom companies face a bill of up to €300 billion (US$340 billion) to roll out super fast 5G across the continent, a task made harder by regulators demanding multiple operators compete in each market to keep consumer bills low.

Vodafone CEO Nick Read said COVID-19, and the need for reliable, fast networks, had focused the minds of regulators, who had realized the value of investment during the pandemic.

“COVID has really opened the eyes of policymakers to say ‘Have we got this right?’,” Read told reporters after Vodafone published quarterly results.

“And I argue there needs to be a new balance (…) Of course we want competition. But at the same time, we need to encourage investment in next generation infrastructure to remain globally competitive.”

“The European Commission needs to adopt a different view here, which allows for consolidation in the European context, or we will become more and more marginalised compared to other parts of the world,” he told Reuters after Telenor posted below-forecast fourth-quarter earnings.

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