February 26, 2018 / 12:00 PM / 6 months ago

Vodafone chief fires back at D.Telekom in spat over Liberty talks

BARCELONA, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Vodafone's CEO Vittorio Colao said Deutsche Telekom's public stance against its plan to buy some assets from Liberty Global was surprising, and its assertion that Vodafone wanted to shut down competition was untrue.

Vodafone said this month it was in early-stage talks about buying Liberty Global's cable assets in some continental markets where they both operate, the chief one being Germany.

Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges said last week that he thought a deal would be "totally unacceptable" during an earnings call with analysts, according to reports.

Colao said he had to be careful about what he said in response to avoid becoming personal.

"I was surprised by the comment from Tim," he told reporters at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.

"I would never use the words 'shutting down competitors'. Using the expression 'shutting down competition' is something that if I were him I would not do, because I believe in it, I believe that competition is good."

Colao declined to give an update on the progress of the talks. (Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Douglas Busvine and Jason Neely)

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