AT&T eyes European market

21 June 2013 | Kavit Majithia


AT&T has indicated it plans to enter the European market after AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson confirmed he is to meet with Neelie Kroes, EU’s industry regulator, later this month.

Stephenson has made frequent visits to the continent, according to the Financial Times, as the company seeks to invest in mobile telecoms markets outside of its core US operations.

Most recently, the company was linked with a takeover of troubled Spain-based Telefonica, which was soon squashed by the Spanish government.

According to numerous sources, AT&T has set out plans to invest in Europe and the company is exploring a range of opportunities in the telecoms sector. It is thought the company’s strategy will revolve mainly around mobile, so a full takeover of a carrier in the region is unlikely.

Leading industry executives have recently predicted a revival in European M&A, which has boosted shares in a number of groups this week. The market has recently struggled with economic and regulatory problems, with revenues under pressure from low spending consumers.

Regulators have also implemented restrictions on roaming fees and termination rates, which is further reducing revenues for operators.

Stephenson said in May that the European market was largely underdeveloped in terms of next-generation mobile, and a business opportunity exists for that purpose. “Everything has been driven by an explosion in mobile, internet, mobile broadband. And the monetisation opportunity in the US in this mobile internet and been really dramatic,” he said. “If you look at the US and how it has grown, how it has evolved and the business opportunity that it has created and then you compare it to Europe and in Europe it is largely underdeveloped. The mobile broadband business is really undeveloped today. There is not much investment in LTE going on; it’s coming but it is coming rather slowly.”

The Financial Times reports AT&T is interested in EE, the joint venture owned by France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, as well as a rumoured interest in Vodafone.