Swisscom buys Vodafone Italia in $8.7 billion deal

By Thomson Reuters Mar 15, 2024 | 1:28 AM

(Reuters) -Swisscom said on Friday it will buy Vodafone Italia for 8 billion euros ($8.70 billion) and merge the business with its Italian subsidiary Fastweb.

The deal will create Italy’s second-biggest fixed-line broadband operator behind TIM, with a strong presence in the prized business segment, and a leading player in mobile.

The transaction consideration will be 100% cash and will be fully debt-financed, Swisscom said.

“Vodafone Italia and Fastweb will bring together complementary high-quality mobile and fixed infrastructures, competencies, and capabilities to create a leading converged challenger in a market with material growth opportunities,” Swisscom said in a statement. The deal is expected to be closed in the first quarter of 2025, and will not require a shareholder vote, the company said.

Swisscom, which has the Swiss government as its controlling shareholder, has been operating in Italy since 2007 via Fastweb, with the business increasing by 50% in terms of customers and revenue over the last 10 years.

“With the merger we’re creating a leading provider in a market with great growth opportunities and in doing so taking a big step towards our goal of profitable growth in Italy,” Swisscom CEO Christoph Aeschlimann said in a video statement.

The transaction caps a busy first year for Vodafone CEO Margherita Della Valle, who pledged to tackle three problematic markets in which it makes no return on its capital.

Della Valle previously agreed to sell its Spanish operation and merge its British unit with Hutchison’s Three last year.

Swisscom said last month the deal would boost its cash flow and would have “a positive impact on its dividend policy”.

The Swiss firm’s Fastweb currently provides mobile services on Hutchison’s Wind Tre’s network, and the two companies have an agreement to roll out 5G networks.

Della Valle, who started her Vodafone career in Italy, is seeking to improve Vodafone’s profitability by striking major deals, something which eluded her predecessor.

Investors have been unsure about the deals, and Vodafone’s shares trade at around half the level they did two years ago.

($1 = 0.9194 euros)

(Reporting by John Revill, editing by Linda Pasquini and Kim Coghill)