Vodafone 'disappointed' by Mannesmann rejection

The logic of the merger between Vodafone AirTouch and Mannesmann to create a European telecommunications leader is "compelling," according to Chris Gent, chief executive of Vodafone.

In a statement issued on Monday, Gent said that benefits of the merger include the creation of the largest mobile phone operator in the world, a presence covering 15 European countries and 30 million customers, cash flow synergy and cost savings.

"The wireless businesses of Mannesmann and Vodafone belong together -- we have been working together for many years and are natural partners in Europe," Gent said in the statement. "A merger of the two would give Mannesmann's shareholders a stake in the world's largest international mobile telecom operator.

"We were disappointed with Mannesmann's reaction to our proposal to merge our two companies."

Earlier this week, Mannesmann rejected Vodafone's $US100 billion bid as "wholly inadequate" and unattractive for its shareholders.

On Monday, Mannesmann applied for an injunction against investment banking firm Goldman Sachs Group, which had been advising Vodafone on the bid, citing potential conflict of interest. Goldman Sachs agreed to stand down pending an injunction hearing scheduled for tomorrow in the London High Court.

The combination of Vodafone and Mannesmann would establish the leading European mobile platform to exploit the significant opportunity for data-related applications and services, Vodafone said in the statement.

The merged company would be better able to identify and capture opportunities in e-commerce, share start-up and launch costs and reduce time-to-market for many of the new products and services, Vodafone said.

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