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Business

Vodafone shares surge on AT&T takeover rumors

Shares in Vodafone have jumped following a report by Bloomberg news agency saying the British mobile firm might be the target of a bid by AT&T. The US telecoms giant is currently weighing options for expanding in Europe.

At the London Stock Exchange, Vodafone shares surged more than 2 percent in early trading Friday, after Bloomberg reported that AT&T was exploring strategies for a potential takeover of the British mobile operator.

Citing sources familiar with the situation, Bloomberg business news agency said Thursday the US-based phone company was intensifying work on which Vodafone assets it would retain after a deal, and who could buy others.

While the companies hadn't entered formal negotiations, AT&T was already formulating a strategy for Vodafone's operations in Europe, where mobile broadband adoption was lagging behind the United States, Bloomberg quoted the unidentified sources as saying.

A takeover or a merger between AT&T and Vodafone would create the world's largest telecommunications operator by sales with a market capitalization exceeding $250 billion (181 billion euros). With more than 500 million wireless subscribers worldwide, the company would be able to challenge Google and Apple when negotiating handset subsidies, Bloomberg noted.

AT&T's Chief Executive Randall Stephenson already said last month that there was a huge opportunity in Europe to invest in mobile broadband. For Vodafone, a tie-up with AT&T could create new chances, too, as its growth in Europe has stagnated in recent months due to saturated mobile markets and EU regulation imposing caps on wireless roaming charges.

The American firm was also examining UK mobile operator EE, which is a joint venture between France's Orange and Germany's Deutsche Telekom, as an alternative to a Vodafone takeover, the sources told Bloomberg.

uhe,tj (dpa, Reuters, Bloomberg)