March 17, 2009 / 9:01 AM / 11 years ago

Telefonica and Vodafone may pool global network

A woman talks on a mobile telephone as she passes a Vodafone store in central London November 8, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

MADRID/LONDON (Reuters) - Telefonica (TEF.MC) and rival Vodafone (VOD.L) are considering extending a possible network-sharing agreement beyond Britain to the rest of the world, Expansion reported on Tuesday without naming sources.

The move would be aimed at sharing investments and boosting profitability. In addition to Britain and Spain, the two operators are both present in Germany, Ireland and the Czech Republic.

Last week, the Guardian reported that talks between the two companies to pool their networks in Britain were at “an advanced stage” with an announcement due in the next few weeks.

No one at Telefonica was immediately available to comment, while Vodafone declined to comment.

At 8:50 a.m. British time, Telefonica’s shares were up 0.5 percent at 15.15 euros, while Vodafone’s shares added 0.12 percent to 120.65 pence.

“This is no more than a cost savings exercise, which is not surprising given the current environment. The big telcos have already announced plans to cut capex and sharing networks is another step to beat the crisis,” an analyst in Spain said.

“Any news that implies reducing costs and improving margins is well received by the market these days,” Banesto Bolsa analysts said in a note, but added it was too soon to determine the impact of an alliance on the operators’ bottom line.

Reporting by Robert Hetz; Additional reporting by Paul Sandle and Judy MacInnes; Writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by John Stonestreet and Jon Loades-Carter

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