NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Vodafone Group (VOD) are down -0.44% to $34.19 on very heavy trading volume after it was reported that speculation is swirling over SoftBank's (SFTBF) next big takeover target after the Japanese mobile carrier last month dropped a bid to acquire T-Mobile US (TMUS) . The possible target: Vodafone Group, the Nikkei reports.
Some say SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son has a particular affinity for Vodafone, stemming from SoftBank's takeover of the British company's Japanese business in spring 2006. Son shuttled back and forth between Japan and the U.K. to quickly close the deal, which was valued at 1.75 trillion yen (about $15 billion then), the Nikkei said.
"I wouldn't be surprised if our CEO acquired Vodafone, since we are no strangers to each other," one SoftBank executive told the Nikkei.
The potential for a shakeout in the European communications industry seems to lend credence to the idea, according to the Nikkei.
When SoftBank and Vodafone struck their deal over the Japanese unit, the British company had a market value of $134 billion, larger than any other global communications enterprise. But Vodafone's European operations subsequently lost steam, eroding the market value by about 30%.
Still, going after Vodafone would be ambitious to say the least. "The total acquisition price of Vodafone would be at least $100 billion," one analyst told the Nikkei.