Vodafone Acquires Mannesmann in the Largest Acquisition in History

ThemeS: Globalization | Clients

The Vodafone logo on the roof of the Mannesmann high-rise building, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2000 (Martin Gerten/picture alliance via Getty Images)

On February 4, 2000, Britain’s Vodafone AirTouch PLC acquires Mannesmann AG in a historic deal that will reshape the mobile telecom marketplace. 

When Britain’s Vodafone AirTouch PLC acquired German industrial conglomerate Mannesmann AG in 2000, the cross-border transaction was the largest merger in history, valued at more than US$190 billion. Goldman Sachs was a financial advisor to Vodafone in the acquisition, which created the world's largest mobile telecom provider. Another distinctive aspect of the deal was the fact that it represented the unsolicited acquisition of a German company, something unprecedented at the time.

The landmark transaction reflected the explosive growth in the European mergers and acquisitions (M&A) sector, which grew nearly three times faster than the global M&A market. Of the 12 largest M&A transactions worldwide at the time, Goldman Sachs was involved in 11, illustrating the strength of the firm's global franchise.

Vodafone's successful — and complex — acquisition of Mannesmann deepened the firm’s already close relationship with the telecom giant. As a result, Goldman Sachs received mandates for a number of transactions related to the merger. This included serving as the joint arranger of a US$30 billion Euro-bank loan, the largest ever; acting as a joint book runner on Vodafone’s US$5.25 billion global bond; and executing a US$5.1 billion trade in Vodafone — the largest equity block trade in history. The firm also completed a number of related divestitures, including the US$46 billion sale of Orange PLC to France Télécom S. A.

In 2013, Goldman Sachs acted as joint financial advisor to Vodafone in its EUR10.7 billion (US$14.1 billion) acquisition of Kabel Deutschland Holding AG. The offer would expand Vodafone’s presence in Germany and create an integrated communications operator by combining Vodafone’s brand and extensive distribution with Kabel’s high-speed broadband cable network and existing client base. That same year, the firm advised Vodafone on the US$130 billion sale of its US group — whose principal asset was its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless — to Verizon Communications. The transaction, including a record US$58.8 billion in cash, was the largest M&A deal in more than a decade, and the third-largest in history.


This article was originally published as part of a series commemorating the 150th anniversary of Goldman Sachs' founding in 1869.