Consolidation For Some, Strategic Refocusing For Others

Just a few days after announcing it would buy a stake in an Indian carrier, Vodafone says it’s going to sell its Swedish unit to Norway’s Telenor for $1.24 billion. We’d noted earlier that with Telefonica’s deal for O2, pretty much all the major mobile operator assets in Western Europe were off the table, consolidating around a handful of pan-European companies, with smaller countries’ operators falling under regional carriers’ umbrellas. There aren’t many big deals left to be made, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see more of the smaller country units in saturated markets get dumped by the big boys to regional players, like Vodafone has done here in Sweden, where it only had about 1.5 million subscribers. Orange sold out in Denmark, with its 600,000 users there, to TeliaSonera earlier this year in a similar deal. Who else might be on the block? Virtual operators. In mature markets with low subscriber growth, their success at gaining new users could make them attractive targets.

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