Vodafone to Proceed with Kabel Takeover

Vodafone has announced that it will proceed with its planned €7.7bn takeover of Kabel Deutschland, Germany’s largest cable provider, after the terms it offered the company’s shareholders were accepted by a large majority.

Vodafone’s offer to buy up shareholders’ stock at a price of €87-a-share received the backing of 75% of voters, the minimum percentage it needed to proceed with an all-out takeover.

“The 75% minimum acceptance condition has been met,” the Berkshire-based company said. “Vodafone will publish a final announcement with the definitive tender ratio of September 16.”

The company added that it will allow shareholders who chose not to accept Vodafone’s offer until September 30 to change their minds.

The move marks a significant pivot towards Europe for Vodafone, which earlier this month agreed to sell its stake in US phone company Verizon for $130m. It will allow the company to join the likes of Deutsche Telekom and Unitymedia – owned by Liberty Global, which also run the UPC brand in Ireland – in offering “Quadplay” services to consumers, bundles which allow customers to draw their internet, television, landline and mobile services from one provider.

The announcement caps a long week for Vodafone in Germany. Earlier this week three hedge funds declared that they intend to sue the company to get a better price for their shares, and it conceded that a hacker had made off with the names, addresses and bank account details of around two million of its German customers.

Among the hedge funds that intend to sue Vodafone is Elliot Management, Kabel’s largest shareholder and a significant backer of the company’s approach early on.

The deal is still subject to the approval of EU regulators. The European Commission expected to undertake a review in the coming weeks.


Three Newly Discovered Exoplanets Could Yield Life

Astronomers in Germany have announced the discovery of three planets in a star system some twenty-two light years from Earth. The exoplanets, which are all believed to be rocky super-earths, orbit their host star in the so-called “Goldilocks” zone – where the temperature is not too hot and not too cold — meaning they may be capable of sustaining organic life, astronomers say.

The planets were discovered in a solar system which bears similarities to our own, astronomers at the University of Gottingen revealed. Between five and seven planets orbit Gliese 677C star – part of a trinary system called Gliese 667.

“We identified three strong signals in the star before, but it was possible that smaller planets were hidden in the data. We re-examined the existing data, added some new observations, and applied two different data analysis methods especially designed to deal with multi-planet signal detection,” commented Guillem Anglada-Escude, who led the initiative.

“Both methods yielded the same answer: there are five very secure signals and up to seven low-mass planets in short-period orbits around the star,” he continued.

The Gliese 667C system is unique as it is the first solar system discovered with more than one planet orbiting within its star’s habitable zone. In our own solar system the Earth is the only planet within the Sun’s “Goldilocks” zone, with Venus and Mars orbiting marginally outside.

The host star in the Gliese 997C system is just one-third the mass of our Sun, making the discovery of three planets within its habitable zone all the more impressive.

The newly discovered planets lie in the constellation Scorpius – which, at twenty-two light years away, is right in Earth’s cosmic back garden, and much closer than the stars being scanned by Nasa’s advanced Keplar telescope.

The discovery came about after scientists peering through the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope took another look at the Gliese 667 system, where they had already discovered three planets outside the host star’s habitable zone.

The discovery of the three new planets may mean that more habitable planets occupy the Milky Way than first thought.