Vodafone unveils Net strategy in bid battle

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The Independent Online

Vodafone Airtouch signalled yesterday that explaining its Internet strategy will be a major plank in an offensive, due to begin in January, to swing Mannesmann's shareholders behind its £82bn takeover bid.

Vodafone Airtouch signalled yesterday that explaining its Internet strategy will be a major plank in an offensive, due to begin in January, to swing Mannesmann's shareholders behind its £82bn takeover bid.

A key aspect of the plan is to convince German investors that Vodafone, while it may lack a substantial Internet presence currently, is well positioned technically and strategically to be a major global player in wireless data. Mannesmann has already built an Internet business with Italy and Germany's second-largest fixed-line networks and owns Internet service providers.

It is understood that Vodafone will argue that, together with Mannesmann, the enlarged group would have substantial strategic and branding advantages to lead the move to wireless data services.

Meanwhile, Chris Gent, chief executive, yesterday moved to defuse the hostile character of Vodafone's bid. "We share Mannesmann's excitement about the growth opportunities facing our industry," Mr Gent said. "Mannesmann has not advanced any argument that contradicts our view that we can capture more of this growth together."

Vodafone stock ended unchanged at 295.25p yesterday, while Mannesmann ended up 2.1 euros at 207 euros.

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