Paul Murphy had a kindasorta
Mobile phone group Vodafone has been considering a $160bn takeover bid for
its American peer and partner, Verizon Communications — a deal that,
if consummated, would rival AOL’s takeover of Time Warner and Vodafone’s
earlier acquisition of Germany’s Mannesmann as one of the largest M&A
transactions on record, FT Alphaville has learned.
That’s a huge scoop, no? So why am I downplaying it? Because it’s nowhere near
the front page of the FT, where one might expect to normally find such things.
In fact, it’s not in the print version of the FT at all. It’s on the website,
and on the website only.
In fact, this story is proof positive that the FT will publish market-moving
stories on the web that it won’t print in its paper. It’s an interesting double
standard, and even a justifiable one. But it also plays right into the hands
of investment bankers. Says the Epicurean
Given what I know of such deals—and past experience—this story
itself is part of a carefully orchestrated plan by Vodafone’s bankers to test
equity and credit markets for their receptivity to such a deal.
Interestingly, Vodafone denied
the story as soon as it appeared (but after Verizon shares had risen by
$1.10 apiece), prompting a follow-up
posting at Alphaville which eventually gets around to saying that "we
now know that the whole takeover plan was subsequently dropped."
Why would bankers would leak the story to the FT if they knew that the plan
had already been dropped? A couple of possibilities spring to mind: maybe they
were annoyed that Vodafone had dropped the plan, and were trying to inject some
semblance of life back into it by making it public. Or maybe they didn’t
know that Vodafone had dropped the plan, and were actually not nearly as close
to the company’s decision-making nexus as they thought they were.
In any event, the editors of the print edition of the FT are looking reasonably
smart this morning for not touching this story. And Paul Murphy isn’t looking
too shabby either: he’s clearly a well-connected journalist who is good at passing
on what he learns, which is his job. It seems that the web really does have
a role to play in these kind of situations. Which will be good for volatility,
at least, going forwards.