U.S. mobile operator AT&T said on Monday it was not planning to take over Britain's Vodafone, making its intentions clear after a request from the takeover panel following months of speculation.
The statement to the London Stock Exchange rules out the second-largest mobile service provider in the United States from buying Vodafone (Newbury, UK) for the next six months. However the group can still make an offer if Vodafone's board agrees to it, or if a third party enters the fray.
"AT&T [Dallas, TX, USA] notes the recent speculation regarding a potential transaction involving Vodafone Group Plc," it said in a short statement. "At the request of the UK Takeover Panel, AT&T confirms that it does not intend to make an offer for Vodafone."
AT&T had sparked speculation that it could be interested in a deal with Vodafone after its Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said there was a "huge opportunity" to invest in mobile broadband in Europe.
Vodafone is the world's second-largest mobile operator, with assets in Europe, India and Africa. It is selling its stake in U.S. operator Verizon Wireless to joint venture partner Verizon Communications (New York City, NY, USA) for $130 billion.
Analysts and bankers have speculated that the sale of the U.S. unit, which is due to complete in February, would leave Vodafone more open to a takeover.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Paul Sandle and Tom Pfeiffer)