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Liberty Global, Vodafone in Dutch JV Talks

Vodafone Group has confirmed it is in talks with John Malone’s Liberty Global concerning a joint venture in the Netherlands, one of the European cable giant’s strongholds.

The news of renewed talks come about five months after the pair ended discussions regarding an asset-swap – which most speculated involved their German businesses, one of Liberty’s biggest markets --  in late September. Liberty Global has made several recent moves to boost its Netherlands presence – it acquired the remaining interest it didn’t already own in Dutch cable company Ziggo last year and reaches about 90% of the homes in the country. A joint venture would make sense given that Liberty has been seeking to increase its mobile presence in Europe, offering a quad-play of video, voice, data and wireless primarily through Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreements.

Speculation in the European press has been high that Liberty Global and Vodafone had restarted talks, which prompted the Vodafone announcement.

“Following recent media speculation, Vodafone Group Plc ("Vodafone") confirms it is in discussions with Liberty Global Plc ("Liberty Global") regarding the creation of a joint venture in the Netherlands that would incorporate both companies’ local operating businesses,” the carrier said in a statement. “The discussions are ongoing and do not extend beyond the creation of a joint venture in the Netherlands. There is no certainty as to when or whether any transaction will be agreed.”