Voda, Orange, BSkyB Eye Tiscali Acquisition – Reports

FT.com has added Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) to the unsubstantiated list of companies interested in buying on-the-block Italian broadband/telco/IPTV group Tiscali, which yesterday set a May 5 sale deadline. Tiscali’s UK unit has 15 percent of the broadband market and is due to contribute 69 percent of ’08 Tiscali revenue. Vodafone offers home broadband but doesn’t own its own network, running instead of BT’s (NYSE: BT) wholesale IPStream. Tiscali, though, uses BT’s Datastream as well as IPStream, so Vodafone would be buying control of its own infrastructure – not to mention 1.7 million broadband customers.

Also interested – BSkyB (NYSE: BSY), Orange, Carphone Warehouse and several Italian players, Guardian reckons. Carphone would carry considerable clout if it wins, having bought AOL’s (NYSE: TWX) access business in 2006. But Tiscali’s nascent experience in broadband IPTV – having acquired VOD service Homechoice in 2006 on which to build its nascent Tiscali TV – could also tempt Orange, whose UK IPTV ambitions are severely delayed.