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Vodafone Ends Talks with John Malone’s Liberty Global over Assets Swap

LONDON — Vodafone Group, the world’s second-largest mobile-phone company, has ended talks with John Malone’s international cable operator Liberty Global regarding an assets swap.

In June, Vodafone confirmed that it was in the early stages of discussions with Liberty Global regarding a possible exchange of selected assets. Vodafone’s cable business in Germany, market leader Kabel Deutschland, was thought to be one focus of the assets swap, while Vodafone was believed to have viewed Liberty Global’s U.K. cable company Virgin Media as one it would like to acquire.

In May, Liberty Global chairman Malone had said that the two companies would make a “great fit.” “We’ve looked at that from our side and there would be very substantial synergies if we could find a way to work together or combine the companies with respect to Western Europe,” he told Bloomberg. This sparked speculation that a £120 billion ($183 billion) merger could be an option, but Vodafone denied this.

Negotiations broke down when the companies failed to agree on the value of Virgin Media and both companies’ assets in Germany, according to an insider, speaking to Bloomberg. Liberty Global owns Germany’s second largest cable operator, Unitymedia.

In an interview earlier this month, Malone admitted there was a deadlock: “Conceptually there could be some real value created but realistically we haven’t been able to figure out a way to do that that’s mutually successful.”

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