With mega mergers seemingly off the table, competition regulators could have a trick up their sleeve and there are plenty of conjurors poised to weave some magic.
In the end, the mergers and acquisitions outlook could all boil down to a simple numbers game.
In cash-strapped Europe, all eyes are on the competition authorities and how they will rethink the ‘magic number’ of competitors they insist upon championing in small and often crowded local markets after approving Hutchison Whampoa’s €1.3 billion purchase of Orange Austria.
In the US, meanwhile, the emphasis is on the number two – and specifically whether Verizon, the US’s second largest phone operator by stock market value, might look to capitalise on a woeful year at Vodafone to finally unravel their complicated wireless joint venture with an audacious move on the UK giant.
And in Asia, the spotlight shines on Masayoshi Son, the so-called “Bill Gates of Japan”, and his now not-so-risible ambitions to build Softbank into the world’s number one phone operator.
But it is, of course, another set of numbers...
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