The telecomms industry is rife with speculation over potential partners for Germany's Veba after Cable & Wireless pulled out of their alliance, Vebacom, last week.
Leading the pack is BT, which has reported to have had secret meetings with Veba to hammer out a deal. Such an agreement could also involve German industrial group RWE, which was the third party in the Vebacom joint venture.
BT is particularly weak in Germany, the biggest telecomms market in Europe, where it already partners with Viag Interkom and recently won a mobile communications licence. Ironically, RWE was an original member of the BT/Viag alliance but withdrew in October 1996 to join Vebacom. RWE currently remains teamed with Veba as it seeks a partner to replace C&W.
?A stake by BT would make sense because its partnership with Viag has not worked out,? believes Adrian May, a telecomms analyst at research company Ovum. He says RWE and Vebacom need a partner with solid experience in telecomms since both have their roots in national utilities and have only recently branched into telecomms. ?BT could be that partner but there are other interested parties such as AT&T which has interests in the Far East,? said May. These global partners could be attractive to Vebacom - BT so far lacks a strong Asia venture.
He believes Viag would stay with BT even if it strikes a deal with Vebacom. Whatever happens, ?deregulation is in less than a year and we are running out of time,? said May. Last week, BT and Viag said their mobile licence win put them in a strong position to offer a full service telecomms offering, in competition to Deutsche Telekom, within a year.
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