According to a report in the UK’s Guardian, there could be a pile of pan-European infrastructure on the table soon. After yet another reorganization of its business model, some analysts apparently think Fidelity may be finally ready to sell Colt, which it has long held a majority stake in. So just to speculate idly, who might show up for such an auction?
Vodafone would surely take a look. With all that cash following the Verizon Wireless transaction, they’d have to. And Colt’s combination of metro and intercity fiber, colocation, and cloud-base services would probably fit quite well with Vodafone’s enterprise division — not to mention the potential backhaul synergies with its various European wireless holdings.
Level 3 would also certainly be at the table, as I have speculated in the past. While in the US I think they aren’t likely to make any inorganic moves right now, Colt’s assets and scale would give them a combined European asset and customer base that would match what they have in the US and probably at a bargain when it comes to multiples.
Then there is the billionaire factor, as there are two fellows with big wallets making waves in Europe although not necessarily in fiber and colo yet. Naguib Sawiris is looking for assets, and of course Carlos Slim’s America Movil has been very active as well. Either one could easily see Colt as a bargain.
The remainder would probably be other large European telecommunications carriers. The two most likely there are probably Deutsche Telekom, which is working on the GTS deal still, or Teliasonera, whose international carrier division has been increasingly aggressive. Orange and Telefonica don’t seem to be on that path.
It’s probably too big a jump for other pan-European independent operators like Interoute. And from Asia I don’t see Tata or NTT looking for that deep a fiber and enteprise presence in Europe. Other US-based network operators also seem unlikely, although AT&T could buy it out of petty cash if they were to look up from the wireless biz.
Anybody have any other candidates?
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