Vodafone Eyeing Australian Landline Acquisition
Vodafone is unlikely to buy out its Australian partner in the near term, but it interested in possibly buying a landline operator that has just been put up for sale by its New Zealand parent company.
Vodafone Australia is a 50:50 joint venture between Vodafone and Hutchison Whampoa, and there have long been suspicions that Vodafone might eye a buy-out of its partner.
Speaking to journalists Vodafone Australia's CEO, Bill Morrow expressed an interest in bidding for AAPT, which operates a nationwide backbone network as it would help the mobile network cut backhaul costs. However, no approach has been made at the moment.
He also said that there are no talks at the moment about Hutchison Whampoa's stake in the mobile network, but said that "we will monitor it in case anything pops up."
"I know of nothing at this point but I just think it is highly unlikely because Vodafone and Hutch are getting on quite well," Mr Morrow said.
As it happens, the holding company used by Hutchison Whampoa for its 50% stake in Vodafone Australia is only 90% owned by Hutchison Whampoa -- with 10% owned by Telecom New Zealand.
It would be theoretically possible for Vodafone to buy that 10% stake and end up with majority ownership of the Australian mobile network.
Any such move would need Hutchison's approval, if only to ensure their good relationship is not soured.
On the web: The Australian