MILAN, Sept 6 Vodafone is ready to
direct a large part of its "Project Spring" investment spend on
Italy, Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said in a newspaper
interview published on Friday.
Colao was quoted as telling Il Corriere della Sera that
Italy becomes Vodafone's second largest market in Europe
following this week's $130 billion deal to sell out of U.S.
joint venture Verizon Wireless, which includes Vodafone
acquiring Verizon's 23 percent stake in Vodafone Italy.
Under its "Project Spring" plan which follows the Verizon
sale, the British company intends to raise its capital spending
by an additional 6 billion pounds over three financial years to
improve network quality for customers in Europe and emerging
"Italy will have a big part of our Project Spring, to speed
up 4G and develop more fibre, ours or in collaboration with
Telecom Italia at sustainable prices," Colao told the
"Otherwise we are already equipped and are ready to
invest," he said.
Project Spring is seen putting debt-laden telecoms players
like Spain's Telefonica and Telecom Italia under
pressure to match Vodafone's step-up in spending.
NOT EUROPE'S AT&T
With cash from the Verizon sale swelling its coffers,
Vodafone looks set to shake up Europe's telecoms sector.
"Consolidation is inevitable," Colao said when asked if just
a few players would remain standing.
He also said Microsoft's 5.44 billion-euro ($7
billion)acquisition of Nokia's core handset business, "makes
strategic sense for everyone".
But he brushed aside a suggestion that Vodafone was
positioning itself to become "Europe's AT&T."
"I wouldn't say we are going to become like AT&T,
because I don't think we need to copy their strategy," he said.
Colao also said that doing one of the world's biggest ever
corporate deals had its enjoyable moments.
"To close the deal, (Verizon's chief executive) Lowell
McAdam and I met at Madison Square Garden during a New York
Rangers hockey match," he said.
"We were surrounded by tens of thousands of hockey fans. The
rumours were already out, so we said, 'let's meet at the most
public place in the world so that no one will suspect anything's