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UK’s Vodafone launches bid for Kabel Deutschland

Management of Kabel Deutschland has accepted the terms offered by Vodaphone PLC.

Michaela Rehle /Reuters

Management of Kabel Deutschland has accepted the terms offered by Vodaphone PLC.

LONDON — Britain’s Vodafone PLC has launched a takeover bid for Germany’s biggest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland, as part of its push to dominate media services in its biggest market.

Vodafone, a British cellphone company with wide international interests, confirmed Monday it will offer 87 euros, about $114, per share for Kabel Deutschland, whose management accepted the terms. The deal values the German company at $10.2 billion when including about $4 billion in net debt.

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Vodafone Group chief executive Vittorio Colao said the deal aims to tap growing German demand for fast broadband and data services.

Kabel Deutschland Holding AG, which has more than 8 million customers, said that its management and supervisory boards ‘‘welcome this announcement.’’

Kabel Deutschland shares were up 1.7 percent in midday Frankfurt trading at 85.52 euros, about $112.

Vodafone made a preliminary approach to Kabel Deutschland earlier this month. That was followed by a preliminary takeover proposal from US rival Liberty Global.

But Liberty would have faced antitrust concerns because of the companies it already owns in Germany. However, Liberty’s decision to wade in probably served to push up the price.

The company, based in Englewood, Colo., did not respond to request for comment.

Though the reaction of the markets appeared to suggest the price was in line with expectations, analysts like Keith Bowman offered a note of caution, wary of Vodafone’s track record on mergers. In 2000, the company took over Mannesmann AG in a stock-swap deal valued at $180 billion — at the time, the largest corporate merger ever — a price many analysts believed overvalued the German company.

Bowman also noted that another element of uncertainty comes from Vodafone’s tussle with Verizon Communications Inc., the New York-based company. Vodafone and Verizon together own Verizon Wireless, the largest cellphone carrier in the United States and a very profitable operation.

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