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Vodafone and MasMovil deny holding tie-up talks in Spain

Credit: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Both Vodafone and MasMovil denied a report by the El Confidencial news website saying the Spanish mobile operator was working with Goldman Sachs to buy the British telecom's business in Spain for 6 billion euros ($6.67 billion).

Adding detail, background

MADRID, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Both Vodafone VOD.L and MasMovil MASM.MC denied a report by the El Confidencial news website saying the Spanish mobile operator was working with Goldman Sachs to buy the British telecom's business in Spain for 6 billion euros ($6.67 billion).

MasMovil and Goldman Sachs have held talks with the world's second largest mobile operator regarding its Spanish business, the Spanish website reported citing unnamed sources close to the talks.

MasMovil, which has grown significantly in recent years via acquisitions in many cases financed by the U.S. investment bank, submitted last summer a non-binding offer rejected by Vodafone, which instead asked for 8 billion euros for the Spanish unit, El Confidencial said.

Consultancy firm McKinsey was also involved and in charge of a strategic plan which estimated synergies worth 2 billion euros, it said.

"MasMovil is not working on a process to buy, merge or create a joint venture with Vodafone Spain," a MasMovil spokesman said.

A Vodafone spokesman said: "There is no truth whatsoever in speculation that Vodafone is in talks with MasMovil."

Vodafone has a market value of about 50 billion euros while MasMovil is worth 2.95 billion euros after rising around 15% so far in 2019, Refinitiv data showed.

The deal reported would create a company of around 9 billion euros and reduce to three the number of domestic operators with operations spanning the whole Spanish market alongside Telefonica TEF.MC and France's Orange ORAN.PA.

SPANISH STRUGGLES FOR VODAFONE

Vodafone is struggling in Spain where its service revenue fell 9.3% in the first quarter, its worst performance in any major market and worse than the 7.9% fall in the previous quarter.

The company blamed steps it had taken to improve its competitiveness and its decision not to renew unprofitable football rights.

It has introduced new tariffs, including unlimited data bundles in both its mobile-only and convergent offers for the first time in Spain, but promotions by rivals saw it lose 158,000 mobile contract customers, 49,000 fixed broadband customers and 24,000 TV customers.

($1 = 0.8988 euros)

(Reporting by Andres Gonzalez and Paul Sandle, writing by Jose Elías Rodríguez; editing by Jason Neely)

((jose.rodriguez@thomsonreuters.com; +34 91 585 8539; Reuters Messaging: jose.rodriguez.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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