VMWare goes on $4.8bn cloud spending spree

VMWare has doubled down on the cloud, writing two cheques totalling $4.8 billion to acquire security firm Carbon Black and software development firm Pivotal.

Founded in 2007, Carbon Black currently offers cloud security solutions to 5,600 customers and 500 partners globally. The cloud-native security platform leverages big data and behavioural analytics to provide endpoint protection against a growing variety and increasing velocity of cyber threats.

“The security industry is broken and ineffective with too many fragmented solutions and no cohesive platform architecture,” said Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMWare. “By bringing Carbon Black into the VMware family, we are now taking a huge step forward in security and delivering an enterprise-grade platform to administer and protect workloads, applications and networks.”

“We now have the opportunity to seamlessly integrate Carbon Black’s cloud-native endpoint protection platform into all of VMware’s control points,” said Patrick Morley, CEO of Carbon Black. “This type of bold move is exactly what the IT and security industries have been looking to see for a very long time.”

With Carbon Black’s portfolio added to the fray, VMWare has said it can now create a modern security cloud platform for any application, running on any cloud, on any device. The aim is to add more intelligence to security functions, threat detection, as well as accelerating responses to limit the damage which can be inflicted.

This is the challenge which many enterprise organizations are facing around the world; the volume of threats is increasing, but the complexity is becoming an even greater headache. With security team limited, and due to a skills shortage, it looks likely to stay this way, many organizations are turning to artificial intelligence to shore up defences.

For Carbon Black, this could prove to be a very useful move. Although the footprint of the business is already impressive, leaning on the significant presence of the Dell Technologies family, the parent company of VMWare, could certainly open doors to new customers.

After years of neglect, it seems the security segments of the digital economy might finally get the attention deserved.

Heading over to the Pivotal acquisition, VMWare will have to part with $2.7 billion to bring this firm into the family.

“Kubernetes is emerging as the de facto standard for multi-cloud modern apps,” said Gelsinger. “We are excited to combine Pivotal’s development platform, tools and services with VMware’s infrastructure capabilities to deliver a comprehensive Kubernetes portfolio to build, run and manage modern applications.”

Pivotal will add to the ‘Any Cloud, Any App, Any Device’ strategy being set in place by VMWare. Following the acquisition of Heptio last year, VMWare has become one of the top three contributors to Kubernetes, the open-source container-orchestration system for automating application deployment, scaling, and management. With Pivotal in the stable, another leader in the Kubernetes ecosystem, the momentum will only head one direction.

Macquarie bags KCOM for £627 million

Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) has officially closed the acquisition of KCOM for £627 million.

While KCOM has a limited footprint in comparison to rivals, it has created a remarkable leadership position in the Hull and East Yorkshire region. KCOM has been of interest to a number of different suitors over the last few months, since a major profit warning was made last year, though MIRA wins out after an auction process.

“We are pleased to be partnering with an investor that has deep, global expertise in our industry,” said Graham Sutherland, CEO of KCOM. “We are confident that Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets will support our long-term growth ambitions whilst helping us maintain our strong local focus and presence.”

“We are looking forward to working closely with KCOM’s management team and workforce to increase fibre accessibility and reduce digital exclusion in the region,” said Leigh Harrison, Head of MIRA EMEA. “By investing to develop and expand KCOM’s networks, we hope to deliver the infrastructure that will underpin growth and innovation in East Yorkshire.”

Last November, KCOM not only issued a profit warning but also cut dividends and warned debts were 10% higher than during the same period of 2017. The news led to a 36% drop in share price and also peaked the interest of potential acquirers.

Virgin Media was first rumoured to be interested in the purchase, it would offer access to an entirely new market for the telco, though pension fund Universities Superannuation Scheme Ltd (USSL) was the first to table a bid. After MIRA got involved in the financial fracas, The Takeover Panel recommended an auction.

With KCOM entering the MIRA portfolio, the investment fund is bolstering its already healthy telecoms position. Aside from KCOM, MIRA is already an investor in Arqiva, and the owner of Danish telco TDC.

Mobileum grows assurance profile with WeDo acquisition

Mobileum has announced it will acquire risk and business management solutions provider WeDo Technologies, bringing together two of the bigger names in this niche segment.

Following the purchase of Evolved Intelligence in October 2018, Mobileum is seemingly on the move to dominant the market. The acquisition of WeDo adds additional weight to its analytics armoury, aiding telcos to detect and prevent fraud on their networks, as well as increasing the physical presence of the firm around the world.

“We are excited to partner with WeDo and support them in the next phase of their growth,” said Bobby Srinivasan, CEO of Mobileum. “As we continue to grow Mobileum, organically and inorganically, the addition of WeDo’s strong product engineering, customer footprint, consulting and services teams to our existing talented workforce around the world will allow us to expand the depth and breadth of our offerings.”

“The combined business offers our customers a richer and more diverse portfolio of solutions in the domains of Revenue Assurance, Fraud Management, Network Security, Roaming and Interconnect. As the mobile industry continues to evolve, this transaction will allow us to continue to invest in the future architecture, assuring the success of our customers along a journey of continuous transformation.”

The newly combined business will have 1,100 employees in 30 offices, serving 700 customers in 180 different countries. The existing WeDo platform and architecture will be maintained, though it will also be integrated with the Mobileum Active Intelligence platform.

Pinning down how big the revenue assurance and risk management software market actually is, however, is not the easiest of tasks.

The Communications Fraud Control Association suggests fraud costs the telecoms industry more than $38 billion a year, with roaming fraud accounting for $10.8 billion of that figure. Estimates from Credence Research suggests the global revenue assurance software market was worth $2.5 billion in 2017, with growth projected at 11% CAGR through to 2026. This sounds promising, however Heavy Reading Analyst James Crawshaw has some doubts.

If we are to assume WeDo is the leading player in the revenue assurance software market, it will have a notable market share. Looking at WeDo’s financials, the team increased orders to more than €60 million for 2018. The numbers aren’t quite adding up here.

Either this is an incredibly fragmented market with thousands of suppliers making up the $2.5 billion, WeDo is not a leading name in the revenue assurance software market or the market is worth considerably less than $2.5 billion.

It is not necessarily the end of the world if the addressable market is smaller than analysts are currently estimating, as long as there is growth potential. There is of course opportunity to grow, though as Crawshaw points out, WeDo’s orders have not really increased significantly over the last few years, suggesting this is somewhat of a stagnant market.

Pai gobbles up Sprint and T-Mobile US merger

After months of headaches and sleepless nights, the tides of favour seem to be turning for Sprint and T-Mobile US as the FCC chief gives his blessing for the union.

254 days into the 180 days the FCC gives itself to approve mergers, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has officially confirmed his position. It is still not quite 100% guaranteed for the two telcos, however with Pai’s recommendation, the future is looking very rosier.

“After one of the most exhaustive merger reviews in Commission history, the evidence conclusively demonstrates that this transaction will bring fast 5G wireless service to many more Americans and help close the digital divide in rural areas,” Pai said in a statement.

“Moreover, with the conditions included in this draft Order, the merger will promote robust competition in mobile broadband, put critical mid-band spectrum to use, and bring new competition to the fixed broadband market.”

Suggesting this was a protracted and painful process might be one of the biggest understatements of the year. However, it might have been necessary considering the significant impact a merger of this scale could potential have on competition, diversification and network deployment across the US.

Above all else, the US is a monstrous market with an incredibly small number of nationwide telcos. This does of course offer economy of scale to improve investment capabilities, though there is a risk of regional monopolies due to the sheer size and geographical variance across the country. Proposed mergers which would take the number of national telcos from four to three has been extinguished in the past, though this one has passed almost every test.

The greenlight from the FCC Chairman is an important step, adding momentum to positive news from the Department of Justice in the last few weeks. At the end of July, the DoJ’s antitrust division gave the thumbs up, assuming Sprint’s prepaid brand Boost is divested, and Pai has made the same demands.

This is one concession which many expected, but we have major issue with. Dish will acquire the Boost brand, allowing it to make use of its horde of valuable spectrum, satisfying the demands, though will this be enough to maintain the current levels of competition, the objective of both the FCC and DoJ? We do not believe so.

Firstly, instead of having four established telcos in the US, consumers will now have to choose from three telcos and a newbie with zero experience of effectively running a mobile business and network. Dish does not have the competence, experience, infrastructure, processes, billing systems or supply chain to run a mobile business, and it will take years to build these elements to the degree expected.

Secondly, Dish is now an MVNO. It will be able to make use of the T-Mobile network, but the FCC and DoJ has replaced a functional MNO with an MVNO and expects no-one to notice the difference. Both of these agencies expect Dish to have its own network up-and-running in a few years, but this is another ridiculous ambition.

As mentioned in the first point, this is a company which is not practiced in the dark arts of mobile. The three remaining traditional players took decades to rollout their own networks, and they are still not genuine nationwide telcos (there are still network gaps across the country). How is Dish expected to create a nationwide, 4G and 5G, network across a country of 9.8 million km2, with an incredibly variety of different urban densities, geographical landscapes and economic societies.

If anyone thinks Dish is going to be a replacement which can maintain the current status quo, they are quite frankly fooling themselves.

What is worth noting is that this is not the end of the road for Sprint and T-Mobile. It might have secured the relevant regulatory approval, but now it will have to combat the various legal challenges.

Led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a coalition of State Attorney Generals have filed a lawsuit to block the proposed merger. The lawyers are arguing the merger would harm competition, and it should be blocked to maintain the status quo. As it stands, with four separate MNOs challenging each other, prices and mobile experience is improving for the consumer; the lawyers are arguing that the situation is not broken, it is in fact improving, so why should the FCC and DoJ try to fix an imaginary problem?

Although the approval process from the DoJ and FCC might have been considered a significant problem, the telcos will not have to face legal heavyweights from more than a dozen States. Lawyers have a way of being very difficult when they want to be, so there might well be a few more twists and turns in this saga.

FTC warns of break-up of big tech

The technology industry has often been a political punching bag over the last 18-24 months, and now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is adding to the misery.

In an interview with Bloomberg, FTC Chairman Joe Simons has suggested his agency would be prepared to break-up big tech, undoing previous acquisitions, should it prove to be the best means to prevent anti-competitive activities. This would be a monumental task, though it seems the tides of favour have turned against Silicon Valley.

This is not the first time the internet giants have faced criticism, and it won’t be the last, but what is worth noting is the industry has not endeared itself to friendly comments from political offices around the world. Recent events and scandals, as well as the exploitation of grey areas in the law, have hindered the relationship between Silicon Valley and ambitious politicians.

In this instance, the FTC is currently undertaking an investigation to understand the impact the internet giants are having on competition and the creation of new businesses. Let’s not forget, supporting the little man and small businesses is a key component of the political armoury, and with a Presidential Election around the corner, PR plugs will be popping up all over the place.

Looking at one of those plugs, Democrat candidate-hopeful Elizabeth Warren has already made this promise. Back in March, Warren launched her own Presidential ambitions with the promise to hold the internet giants accountable to the rules. Not only does this mean adding bills to the legislative chalkboard, but potentially breaking up those companies which are deemed ‘monopolistic’.

This has of course been an issue for years in Europe. The European Commission has stopped short of pushing for a break-up, though Google constantly seems to be in the antitrust spotlight for one reason or another. Whether it is default applications through Android or preferential treatment for shopping algorithms, it is under investigation. The latest investigation has seen job recruiters moaning over anti-competitive activities for job sites.

What is also worth noting is that the US has a habit of diluting the concentration of power in certain segments throughout its history. The US Government seems to be tolerant of monopolies while the industry is being normalised and infrastructure is being deployed, before opening-up the segment.

During the early 1910s, Standard Oil was being attacked as a monopoly, though this was only after it has finished establishing the rail network to efficiently transport products throughout the US. In the 1980s, the Bell System was broken-up into the regional ‘Baby Bells’ to increase competition throughout the US telco market.

The internet could be said to have reached this point also. A concentration of power might have been accepted as a necessary evil to ensure economy of scale, to accelerate the development and normalisation of the internet economy, though it might have reached the tipping point.

That said, despite the intentions of US politicians, this might be a task which is much more difficult to complete. It has been suggested Facebook has been restructuring its business and processes to make it more difficult to break-up. It also allegedly backed out of the acquisition of video-focused social network Houseparty for fears it would raise an antitrust red-flag and prompt deeper investigations.

You have to wonder whether the other internet giants are making the same efforts. For example, IBM’s Watson, its AI flagship, has been integrated throughout its entire portfolio, DeepMind has been equally entwined throughout Google, while the Amazon video business is heavily linked to the eCommerce platform. These companies could argue the removal of certain aspect would be overly damaging to the prospects of the business and also a bureaucratic nightmare to untangle.

The more deeply embedded some of these acquisitions are throughout all elements of the business, the more difficult it becomes to separate them. It creates a position where the internet giants can fight back against any new regulation, as these politicians would not want to harm the overarching global leadership position. Evening competition is one thing but sacrificing a global leadership position in the technology industry defending the consumer would be unthinkable.

This is where you have to take these claims from the FTC and ambitious politicians with a pinch-of-salt. These might be very intelligent people, but they will have other jobs aside from breaking-up big tech. The internet giants will have incredibly intelligent people who will have the sole-task of making it impossible to achieve these aims.

Verizon correcting the mistakes of yesteryear with Tumblr sale

There are good acquisitions and bad acquisitions, and then there was the prolonged saga with Verizon acquiring Yahoo’s media assets.

In 2017, Verizon decided it wanted to scrap with Google and Facebook to secure a slice of the lucrative online advertising bonanza. Its route to these riches was acquiring Yahoo’s media assets, an on-going saga was has led to little more than headaches for the telco. Now Verizon has announced it will get rid of one of the adopted problem children.

Financials of the deal have not been announced, though WordPress owner Automattic will acquire Tumblr.

“Tumblr is one of the Web’s most iconic brands,” said Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg. “It is an essential venue to share new ideas, cultures and experiences, helping millions create and build communities around their shared interests. We are excited to add it to our lineup, which already includes WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, Simplenote, Longreads, and more.”

Perhaps one of the biggest problems with Tumblr is figuring out what to do with it. In its own right, Tumblr is a very successful platform, home to 475 million blogs, though translating such potential is often a difficult task, requiring forward- and out-of-the-box thinking. Automattic looks to be a much more suited business to realise this ambition than the traditional telco.

“Tumblr is a marquee brand that has started movements, allowed for true identities to blossom and become home to many creative communities and fandoms,” said Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan.

“We are proud of what the team has accomplished and are happy to have found the perfect partner in Automattic, whose expertise and track record will unlock new and exciting possibilities for Tumblr and its users.”

For Verizon, this is another chapter is a pretty miserable story so far. The entry into the media world started on shaky grounds with huge data leaks and hasn’t got much better. It does still own some very attractive titles, TechCrunch and Huffington Post for example, though in laying off 7% of staff last October as well as 15% of UK staff in January demonstrates the pain.

The telco has to make the media business work for it, it did make a $5 billion bet after all, but it has not been a simple quest to date.

Broadcom plugs into security buzz with $10.7bn Symantec buy

Some lucky gamblers would have made a pretty penny heading into the weekend as Broadcom officially announces it will acquire security firm Symantec.

At the beginning of July, share price in Symantec surged north as the rumour mill started turning. Broadcom was the co-lead of the drama which added 13% to share price in a matter of hours, only for the gains to be cruelly slashed as various news sources burst the bubble. It was nothing but gossip at the time, though the first rumours have turned out to be true.

In a $10.7 billion deal, Broadcom will acquire the enterprise security business of Symantec, expanding the chipmaker into new markets. Tan is looking to spread the wings of the technology giant, with Symantec to offer a stepping stone into an increasingly lucrative segment.

“M&A has played a central role in Broadcom’s growth strategy and this transaction represents the next logical step in our strategy following our acquisitions of Brocade and CA Technologies,” said Hock Tan, Broadcom CEO.

“Symantec’s enterprise security business is recognized as an established leader in the growing enterprise security space and has developed some of the world’s most powerful defence solutions that protect against today’s evolving threat landscape and secure data from endpoint to cloud.”

Some might question why one of the worlds’ largest chipmakers is venturing into the world of enterprise software solutions, but this is a transition which has been underway for some time. Broadcom is not giving-up on semiconductors whatsoever, but it is diversifying the revenue streams.

In November 2017, Broadcom closed the $5.5 billion acquisition of Brocade, a specialist in data and storage networking products, which was followed in July 2018 by the $18.9 billion purchase of CA Technologies, a company which offers various IT software products and solutions. Adding Symantec into the mix simply continues the drive towards enterprise IT.

Looking at the investor presentation, in two and a half years Broadcom has undergone considerable evolution. After the closure of the Symantec acquisition, semiconductors will account for 71% of the total revenues, with software solutions taking the remaining 29%. And of course, with new regulations, new consumer attitudes and new purchasing patterns, security has the potential to become a lucrative area.

The Broadcom management team suggest this acquisition is a foot-in-the-door of a $161 billion addressable security market, with Symantec market share leader in some interesting segments. In the stable markets of endpoint security and web security services, a combined value of $1.25 billion, Symantec is the market leader, where is also leads the way in the fast-growing data loss prevention segment.

One question which some investors might have is whether the Commander-in-Chief will get involved.

Will the White House weight-in?

Trump has been increasingly weighing into the technology industry over the last two years, perhaps seeing this influential segment as a means to counter the aggressive progress made by China in the global economy.

Although the Brocade and CA Technologies acquisitions passed without issue, who can forget the failed acquisition of Qualcomm for $117 billion. This was deemed a move contrary to national security, with Trump signing an executive order to block the acquisition. The Oval Office has remained quiet to date, but it would not surprise anyone to see the President wading in.

If Broadcom acquiring Qualcomm, a company critical to the US’ standing in the 5G race, was seen as a national security threat, who is to say the same theory could not be applied to Symantec. Security is a tender topic at the moment, and Symantec currently works with 86% of the Fortune 500. Blocking the deal is a long-shot, but it is worth keeping a weary eye on the White House.

Of course, should the transaction complete in a suitable period of time, Broadcom will have to make the security segment actually work. Just ask Intel how difficult this is.

Let’s not forget, security acquisitions can bite back

After acquiring security giant McAfee in 2010 for $7.68 billion, Intel endured years of pain trying to make the security segment work for it. After six years of struggle, Intel attempted to sell the security unit, before settling for a spin-off strategy after failing to find a hungry-enough buyer.

Although Intel failed, what is worth noting is the world is a different place nowadays. Thanks to numerous scandals and data breaches over the last few years, as well as the introduction of more punishing regulation around the world, companies are more aware of security threats and are allocating more funds to the various departments. This includes data management and front-line solutions.

In the past, security has been nothing more than political rhetoric or a means for CEOs to pacify investors and customers. Speeches were regularly made concerning the importance of creating security and resilient products, though this rarely translated into investments into security products and solutions.

Attitudes do seem to be changing, more investment is being made into hardening defences and managing risk, though the question is how quickly this evolution is taking hold. This will define whether this is a good acquisition for Broadcom.

The risks are very evident. Recent research from IBM suggests the average cost of a security breach in the US is $8.19 million, almost double the average worldwide. Those who are able to contain a breach to 200 days can reduce the financial impact by an average of $1.2 million; there is certainly financial incentive to take note of the increasingly complex security demands.

Security is now a major component of the digital mix. Few CEOs would have wanted to spend so much on a cost-centre, but reality has caught up; the risks are such that security cannot be swept aside or bolted onto new initiatives nowadays.

Vodafone officially walks away from New Zealand

Vodafone has completed the sale of its Kiwi business to a consortium of investors for €2.1 billion.

Although Vodafone is technically leaving the country, the brand will remain. The consortium, featuring Infratil Limited and Brookfield Asset Management, have signed an agreement to continue using the brand, while also accessing favourable roaming rates in countries where Vodafone is maintaining its presence.

“This transaction is a continuation of our strategy to optimise our portfolio and reduce our debt,” said Group CEO Nick Read.

“I am pleased we will continue our 21-year relationship with the business and talented team in New Zealand through a Partner Market agreement, delivering Vodafone’s technology and services to benefit the country as it transitions to a digital society.”

The sale of the Kiwi business was announced back in May as Vodafone searched for ‘financial headroom’. It appears this business unit was deemed surplus to requirements at a business which has been facing financial pressures in recent months.

Although Vodafone has remained profitable in a difficult time for telcos on the whole and maintained semi-favourable positions across the world, there are more difficult times on the horizon due to some lavish spending.

Not only does Vodafone have to source cash to fuel 5G deployments in various different markets, there are a couple of spectrum auctions to keep an eye on and marketing euros which need to be spent combatting resourceful rivals in some countries. The recent acquisition of Liberty Global’s European assets will also place stress on the spreadsheets.

It is been a couple of busy weeks for the Vodafone PR team, as aside from this transaction there have been network sharing announcements in Italy and the UK, as well as the prospect of a tower infrastructure business being spun off. The team is certainly working hard to generate extra cash in any way it possibly can.

Apple eyeing up $1bn Intel smartphone chip purchase – sources

Reports emerged about Apple’s interest in Intel’s smartphone modem business a few weeks back, and now the rumour mill is back up-and-running as more sources suggest conversations.

According to The Washington Post, a deal worth $1 billion, including various patents and staff, is entering advanced talks. Apple has always been a business which wants to control its ecosystem and such a deal would take it one step closer to developing critical components for its devices.

Although the Intel smartphone business unit has been viewed as somewhat of a failure in recent years, it is certainly more developed than Apple’s in-house capabilities. This is an area which is a significant focus for Apple and incorporating the Intel smartphone business into its own operations could help save it years of development work.

This is of course not the first push into the semiconductor world by Apple. Not only has it announced plans to open a 1,200-strong research facility in San Diego, but it effectively ended its relationship with GPU firm Imagination Technologies in 2017. Apple said it would begin to phase out Imagination Technologies in favour of its own GPU components.

For Apple, this seems like a logical move considering the squeeze which is being placed on smartphone manufacturers worldwide. There are several reasons smartphone shipments are declining year-on-year, but the increasing price is certainly a powerful factor.

The iPhone has consistently underpinned profits at Apple, though the global slowdown and challenge to market share from Chinese brands threaten this. Apple is regularly being undercut by rivals, while entry into new markets such as India has been challenging because of the price of devices. Owning more elements of the supply chain, especially components, can help the iLeader reduce the price of handsets and become more competitive in the era of innovation mediocrity.

This is also a slight change in mentality when it comes to Apple’s acquisition strategy. Rarely does the iChief go for the big-ticket acquisitions, preferring to swallow up smaller providers in pursuit of innovation, but it does appear context is ruling above in this instance, assuming the reports are true of course.

For Intel, this would appear to be a very satisfactory exit from a challenging segment. Although the team has always had ambitions in the smartphone segment, it has never been able to make it work. The unit has consistently undermined profits and recent R&D efforts have focused on 5G in other device segments. This transaction would appear to be a win-win for both parties.

Vodafone gets the green light from Europe for Liberty Global acquisition

The European Commission has given the all-clear for Vodafone’s €18.4 billion acquisition of Liberty Global’s cable operations in Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic and Romania.

There are of course conditions which Vodafone will have to adhere to, but the telco is now claiming to be Europe’s largest converged operator, with 116.3 million mobile customers, 24.2 million broadband customers and 22.1 million TV customers across 13 European countries.

“With the European Commission’s approval of this transaction, Vodafone transforms into Europe’s largest fully-converged communications operator, accelerating innovation through our gigabit networks and bringing greater benefits to millions of customers in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania,” said Vodafone Group CEO Nick Reid.

“This is a significant step toward enabling truly digital societies for our customers.”

Of course, Vodafone has not got it all its own way. One of the concessions relates to the German market where Vodafone has agreed to open up the cable network to Telefonica Deutschland, allowing the rival to deliver TV and broadband services. Telefonica Deutschland has been discussing ways in which it can enter into new service segments, though this concession will certainly be welcomed by the bean-counters.

On the broadcasting side, Vodafone has also agreed it will not restrict broadcasters from distributing their content also via OTT services. This concession has been designed to counter fears that the newly merged entity would inhibit the growth of OTT services across the various geographies.

Following the approval, Vodafone expects the transaction to be completed by 31 July, though not everyone will be happy with the deal.

Yesterday, credit rating agency S&P entered Vodafone onto its CreditWatch list in a negative capacity, suggesting the firm has been too adventurous on its recent spending spree. This acquisition is deemed as a significant outlay, though the firm is also exposed to several spectrum auctions in key markets, as well as operating in some areas where trading conditions are less than perfect. S&P has said it will downgrade Vodafone to BBB on approval of the deal.

Elsewhere, other analysts have been pointing to negative performance in the stock markets since the introduction of Reid as CEO and the announcement of the Liberty Global transaction. Since these two news snippets hit the headlines, Vodafone’s share price has declined by more than 30%. Vodafone might be more competitive in some European markets now, but it seems some are worried by the financial commitments.