Last week it emerged that several companies were considering bidding for THUS. Now C&W has raised their bid by almost 10% to $656M. Since there was no competing bid actually on the table, we have to see this move by C&W as preemptive. They are serving notice that they aren’t kidding around, buying THUS is very important to them. I suspect this particular salvo is more at Colt than at Global Crossing, but it will serve as a warning shot for any other prospective white knight. THUS still says the offer is too low of course.
It seems clear, however, that THUS will be sold one way or another this year, and I think this may trigger additional consolidation in the UK telecom space which will reverberate through both Europe and the USA. Global Crossing may not have a for-sale sign in the window, but at this point everyone knows they are both in the market and on the market. If they are unable (as seems likely) to snatch THUS from C&W to combine with GCUK, their choices will be narrowed and they will likely be the next to sell out, most likely to Level 3. But such an entry by Level 3 into the UK market might disturb the wholesale relationship they have had toward current UK operators, so one way or another GCUK might really get sold separately as earlier rumors suggested.
Telecom M&A in the USA may pick up later this year, but right now it looks like the action is in the UK.
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