Vodafone AirTouch (VOD: quote ), the world's largest mobile phone carrier, is seeking to secure its future in Europe with an historic E124bn (£78bn) hostile takeover offer for Germany's Mannesmann. If it goes through, this will be the largest hostile takeover in history and Germany's first hostile acquisition.
The bid is Vodafone's response to Mannesmann's move in October to buy Orange (ORA: quote ), the UK's third-largest mobile operator and a direct Vodafone competitor. From soon after the Orange acquisition became known, industry observers predicted that a hostile bid for Mannesmann might be the only way out for Vodafone: Mannesmann is currently Vodafone's German partner, and an alliance with Orange could throw Vodafone's Continental ambitions into doubt.
Vodafone is set to launch its hostile bid by the end of December, and in the meantime Mannesmann is doing everything in its power to stay independent. The two countries' heads of state have even become involved, with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder criticising hostile deals and Prime Minister Tony Blair defending Vodafone's actions.
Here are some of the major headlines on the history of the battle, as it has unfolded.
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