Swisscom’s Fastweb Is Said to Weigh Deal for Vodafone Italy

(Bloomberg) — Italian telecom operator Fastweb is exploring a potential deal for Vodafone Group Plc’s local operations, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

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Fastweb, which is owned by Swisscom AG, is among suitors that have been studying a potential combination with Vodafone Italy, the people said, asking not to he identified because the information is private.

Vodafone has also continued to hold on-and-off discussions in recent months with French billionaire Xavier Niel’s Iliad SA about a potential merger of their Italian businesses, the people said, adding that there is no certainty whether Vodafone will decide to proceed with any transaction.

Shares of Vodafone were up 1.5% at 9:20 a.m. Friday in London, giving the company a market value of about £19.5 billion ($24.5 billion). Swisscom shares were little changed in Zurich.

Italy has one of the world’s most competitive telecom markets. The pending sale of Telecom Italia SpA’s network is set to reshape the industry, potentially triggering a wave of further dealmaking among carriers.

Vodafone rejected an €11.25 billion ($12.3 billion) bid for its Italian unit from an Iliad-backed consortium last year, saying the offer wasn’t in shareholders’ best interests. Iliad entered the Italian mobile market in 2018, sparking a cutthroat price war with its positioning as a no-frills operator.

Representatives for Fastweb, Iliad, Swisscom and Vodafone declined to comment.

–With assistance from Tommaso Ebhardt.

(Updates with share move, Swisscom response.)

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