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AT&T is already exploring a potential Vodafone takeover

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Vodafone Germany (STOCK)
Vodafone Germany (STOCK)

AT&T wants a piece of the European wireless market, and buying Vodafone may be the ticket. Bloomberg reports that AT&T is already "mapping out a strategy" to purchase the giant European telecom company, and already figuring out how it would manage Vodafone's European operations. Apparently, the company hasn't yet been daunted by European officials worried about AT&T's role in the PRISM surveillance scandal.

EE is the alternative target

The deal isn't certain yet, and Bloomberg says that a transaction wouldn't materialize until 2014 in any event: that's when Vodafone will be free of its $130 billion stake in Verizon Wireless. The publication also says that AT&T is also considering UK carrier EE as an "alternative target." Still, it seems like Vodafone is AT&T's primary goal. The carriers have reportedly been in talks for some time. Originally, Verizon and AT&T were rumored to team up on a bid for Vodafone, with Verizon retrieving Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless, and AT&T taking over the company's European business. Verizon denied that rumor and managed to buy the stake without AT&T's help, but come 2014 we might wind up with the exact same result. However, Bloomberg reports that Vodafone is also making plans to invest in landline communications, which a Bloomberg source previously said might turn AT&T off a potential deal.

If you're wondering why AT&T is interested in the European market, there's a handy video that goes some way to explaining the company's aim. At the European Telecommunication Network Operators (ETNO) summit in Brussels earlier this month, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson explained that the slow pace of advanced wireless adoption in Europe offered a "huge opportunity for somebody." Perhaps that somebody will be AT&T.