Nick Read, the CEO of Vodafone Group Plc, wants all telecommunication players in Europe to collaborate in order to thrive and advocated 'consolidation' saying that he is ready to work with 'rivals' as well.
"Returns on capital in this sector in Europe have halved over the past decade... The sector is destroying value by duplicating infrastructure. We need to move to a better model,” Read, who has been leading the telco giant since 2018, said in a recent interview with The Times of London.
Since Read has held the top post, Vodafone has struck collaboration deals across several territories, including in the United Kingdom. "We talk to all the players all the time," says Read.
When asked about possible collaborations, Read said, "I am supportive of consolidation on the right terms," while adding that he’s been lobbying regulators across Europe for sensible mergers and collaboration deals. This, according to Read, will help in improving returns in the sector and encourage wide-scale investments in 5G and fibre.
The recent interview has triggered speculation that Vodafone could potentially co-invest in rival Virgin’s rollout of fibre band. Some reports also suggest that Vodafone may also go for a merger with Three, its major competitor in Europe.
On being asked if Vodafone is in talks with UK-based telecom operator Three, Read said “Voda-Three" should be approved by regulators if a merger were to happen. "In Europe, we have more than 100 operators competing in a very fragmented way — as opposed to the US, which has three scale players. China and India also have three major telecom players. In those other markets, you have heavy investment but reasonable returns for shareholders," Read said.
Earlier this month, Vodafone announced a partnership agreement with Telekom Srbija, covering Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Herzegovina — all parts of the former Yugoslavia that are now independent countries. In its statement, Vodafone said that it has now expanded to over 30 partners in over 40 countries — from Chile to Russia, Iceland to New Zealand, and now Serbia.
Meanwhile in India, Vodafone Idea (VI) reported a loss of Rs 7,132 crore for the quarter ended September 30 as compared to a loss of Rs 7,218 crore in the corresponding period last fiscal.