LONDON (CNNfn) - Vodafone AirTouch jacked up the pressure on bid target Mannesmann Tuesday by announcing a new Internet venture with a string of blue-chip partners.|
Vodafone, the world’s largest cellular operator, is launching its wireless Internet services platform in July, and has lined up IBM to design and operate the service, with support and services from other companies including Sun Microsystems (SUN), online brokerage Charles Schwab (SCH), palmtop computer maker Psion (PON), mobile phone giants Nokia and Ericsson and online booking company Travelocity.com.
Mannesmann’s final defense against Vodafone’s record $142 billion hostile takeover bid is due Friday, and the German firm has made much of the broader array of opportunities, including Internet presence, that its two-pronged fixed- and mobile strategy offers.
Vodafone’s strategy is to focus on cellular services, and the latest venture is part of its plan to broaden the services available on a cellular phone by adding data and e-commerce options.
The new Internet platform, as yet unnamed, will be accessed through an Internet portal run by IBM. Other cellular firms are also rushing to boost their presence on the Web, and U.K. rival Orange, recently acquired by Mannesmann (FMMN), has launched its own Internet Service Provider.
Vodafone stock rose 3 percent to 311.5 pence in early London trade Tuesday, while Psion shares surged 12 percent to 2,609 pence.
-- from staff and wire reports