Summary:

Enough Kabel shareholders have agreed to sell in order to allow the sale to go through. However, there may be further resistance from hedge funds, and regulatory approval is also still needed.

Vodafone racecar

Vodafone’s $10.3 billion takeover of German cable operator Kabel Deutschland looks set to go ahead – pending regulatory approval – after the British telecoms giant succeeded in getting 75 percent of Kabel’s shareholders to agree to sell.

There had been worries earlier this week that Vodafone would fail to reach that threshold by the deadline at the end of Wednesday: on Wednesday itself, only 20 percent of the shares were secured. The companies said on Thursday that the threshold had been reached, and that Vodafone would reveal the final acceptance ratio on Monday.

Vodafone is Germany’s number-two cellular carrier and, compared with fiber-equipped mobile market leader Deutsche Telekom, it has a relatively small fixed-line business (and a DSL-based one at that) to match its mobile operations. That will probably soon change, assuming the deal gets clearance from European antitrust regulator Joaquin Almunia. And if Vodafone has more fixed-line customers in Germany, it will be easier to sell them fixed-mobile-IPTV service bundles.

That said, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that holdout funds such as Elliott Capital Advisors, which recently picked up 10 percent of Kabel’s shares, could still try to block the offer. This could theoretically lead to a long-running battle.

Although it laid out its intentions to buy Kabel back in June, Vodafone is about to pull in a huge wad of cash from the sale of its Verizon Wireless stake to Verizon. Of that $130 billion haul, it will devote just north of $35 billion to growth in the European fixed-line space, and everyone’s waiting to see what the next acquisition target is.

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