Cable group reportedly exploring possible sale of Swiss, Austrian units bringing footprint into closer alignment with Voda’s

Renewed speculation about a potential tie-up between Vodafone and Liberty Global emerged late on Tuesday, prompted by rumours that the latter is exploring a sale of its Swiss and Austrian units.

This is according to sources cited by the Telegraph, who provided the usual caveat that discussions about disposing of the assets are at an early stage, and may not lead to a transaction.

If the rumours are accurate, it could be viewed as part of an attempt to bring Liberty Global into closer alignment with Vodafone – given the latter doesn’t operate in either Switzerland or Austria – which may help to pave the way for a merger, the report said.

In a similar vein, Liberty Global is also in the process of spinning off its Latin America and Caribbean group – another part of the world largely untouched by Vodafone.

For its part, Vodafone is deconsolidating its Indian business, which is merging with local rival Idea Cellular. It has also restructured its business in Africa, transferring an indirect stake in its Kenyan business Safaricom to its South African unit Vodacom.

In addition, Liberty Global and Vodafone have already tested the waters, bringing together their respective Dutch operations to form Vodafone Ziggo, a deal that received close attention from antitrust regulators and subsequently required asset sales.

However, it is worth remembering that that the two companies held asset swap talks prior to the Netherlands deal, but both sides walked away after reportedly struggling to draw up a deal structure that would appeal to their respective shareholders.

According to the Telegraph report, Liberty and Voda might also struggle to agree on the relative valuations of the companies.