Earlier this year, the rumor mill claimed that AT&T was interested in acquiring a European carrier as a way to continue to grow its business and try out different pricing strategies. There hasn't been much in the way of new information on the matter since, but that's changing today.
According to sources speaking to Bloomberg, AT&T executives are currently putting together the basics of a plan that would see it try to purchase Vodafone, the largest carrier in Europe. No formal discussions have taken place yet, but AT&T is busy trying to figure out which parts of Vodafone it would retain and which it would sell off if a deal were to take place. It's said that AT&T is interested in Vodafone's European assets more than its African and Indian pieces. One strategy that AT&T is reportedly kicking around is holding onto Vodafone's European assets and then bundling the emerging market parts into one package that could be sold off to another wireless company like America Movil or China Mobile.
Vodafone is currently involved in a deal with Verizon Communications in which it is selling off its part of the Verizon Wireless joint venture. As a result, any potential deal involving AT&T wouldn't be able to get going until the Vodafone-Verizon transaction reaches completion, which is expected to happen in early 2014.
AT&T is reportedly eyeing European operator EE as a backup to Vodafone, and because AT&T is still in the early stages of planning out its strategy, it may ultimately device not to make any bid at all. A deal involving AT&T and Vodafone could be beneficial for both companies, though, as smartphone adoption in Europe has slowed and AT&T could use that as an opportunity to try out new strategies and potentially grow its global presence if it finds success. Now we just have to wait and see if AT&T can formulate a plan that can please both Vodafone and U.K. politicians.