Just days after reports circulated that AT&T (NYSE: T) was eying a possible merger with Telefonica SA, there is new evidence that the company is talking with other potential acquisition candidates in Europe as well.
According to Bloomberg, which cited unidentified sources close to the matter, AT&T has expressed interest in assets owned by Vodafone Group as well as EE, the U.K. joint venture of France Telecom SA and Deutsche Telekom AG.
In addition, the Financial Times is reporting that AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson is expected to return to Europe this month to meet with European telecom regulator Neelie Kroes. However, details of what the two will discuss are unclear.
According to Edward Jones & Co. analyst David Heger, AT&T and other telcos have limited acquisition opportunity in the U.S., however there is buying potential in Europe where the economy has taken a toll.
Stephenson has said that the company would entertain M&A opportunities in Europe if they were available. However, he added that finding a suitable acquisition target would likely be difficult.
AT&T, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom all declined to comment on the story. However, many industry observers have noted that any deal AT&T strikes with Telefonica could be complicated by the company's investment in America Movil (NYSE: AMX), which operates in Latin America and competes with Telefonica in several markets
Earlier this month AT&T sold 7.5 percent of its stake in America Movil, netting the company about $564 million and returning AT&T's total stake in the telecom giant to its historic level of around 9 percent.
- see this Bloomberg article
- and this FT article
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