At the same, the idea of infrastructure companies buying cable assets is not one they warm to.
In a session entitled Following the money, Andrew Barron, chairman of ComHem, said that while mobility is important, the question was how you address it. In his company’s view, convergence is about more than mobile and WiFi, with other factors such as B2B, offnet and buildings also important for ComHem.
Barron conceded that ComHem was a few years behind other operators in the rollout of bundled and other services. It will in due course introduce a consumer mobile product but sees no need to rush into mobile.
Meanwhile, Clif Marriott, MD, Goldman Sachs International, predicted that in five years time many markets would have converged to being served by one incumbent, one cable operator and one mobile company. However, this may not hold true in Scandinavia.
The Altice Group has recently been expanding its interests in the cable market and Burkhard Koep, its head of strategy and business development, said that its latest deal – in Portugal – is expected to close in Q2. He added that although scale has a lot of benefits, there is a history of failed M&As – not just in cable but also in the telco sector – and Altice want to strike a balance.
Andrew Salvato, senior VP and chief development officer, Liberty Global, also spoke in favour of scale but refused to be drawn on the possibility of a deal with Vodafone, instead insisting that Liberty could operate as a standalone company.
Interestingly, the panelists appeared surprised when asked a question by an audience member about the possibility of infrastructure funds buying cable assets.
There was a general consensus that this was something operators would not like to see.