The JV announcement comes after Vodafone CEO Nick Read last year highlighted the German market as a major opportunity for the operator and hinted it was exploring potential joint venture activity.
In order to take advantage of a significant fibre potential in Germany, European operators Vodafone and Altice joined forces. They announced intentions to establish a joint venture (JV) that will invest up to €7 billion ($6.85 billion) in rollouts there over the ensuing years.
The operators stated that they intended to roll out fiber-to-the-home technology through the JV to up to 7 million sites in Germany. In Vodafone’s current cable footprint, the vast majority (80%) of deployments will concentrate on sizable housing associations that have indicated an interest in fibre. The remainder of the development will concentrate on surrounding areas outside of Vodafone’s present service area. The new infrastructure will be built and maintained by Altice subsidiary Geodesia over a six-year period as part of the rollouts.
Wholesale access to the network will be offered to all service providers, the pair said, with Vodafone Germany serving as an anchor tenant on the network.
In the first half of 2023, the 50-50 JV should be fully formed. As part of the agreement, Altice will pay Vodafone a total of up to €1.2 billion, which includes an upfront payment of €120 million at closing, €487 million in deferred payments, and an “earn-out” based on the performance of up to €595 million.
The strengths of each operator, according to co-CEO of Altice David Drahi, “will allow us to construct one of the largest FTTH undertakings in Europe.” In France and Portugal, he pioneered fibre joint ventures, and he continued, “We are happy to be able to recreate such an achievement in Germany with such a partner.”
Vodafone noted the fiber deployment will be happening as it works to upgrade its cable assets in the country with high splits and, eventually, DOCSIS 4.0.
The joint venture announcement comes after Vodafone CEO Nick Read revealed that the operator was considering joint venture activities last year and emphasized the German market as a key prospect.
The owner, however, is not the first to notice an opportunity there. In October 2020, Telefonica became the first JV to target the German market. Liberty Global then signed a JV agreement with a private equity group in September 2021.
In November 2021, Deutsche Telekom obtained €900 million from investors in Australia for a rural fibre JV there. The following month, the company increased its solo fibre rollout objective to 10 million households by 2024.
According to the May 2022 Market Panorama report from FTTH Council Europe, Germany is expected to reach 26.9 million homes by the year 2027, placing it third after France (31.1 million) and the U.K. (30.1 million).