Voda­fone to start talks on SFR stake sale

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

SINGAPORE: Voda­fone Group Plc, the world's largest mo­bile-phone com­pany, is ready to start talks to sell its 7 bil­lion-pound ($ 11 bil­lion) stake in SFR to Vivendi SA, the Daily Mail re­ported, cit­ing peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

Dis­cus­sions will be­gin over the next few weeks on the sale of New­bury, Eng­land­based Voda­fone's 44 per­cent hold­ing in the French mo­bile­phone com­pany, the news­pa­per re­ported. An agree­ment could be reached "quite quickly," it said.

Paris-based Vivendi is un­likely to en­ter into talks to buy the Bri­tish com­pany's stake in the mo­bile op­er­a­tor un­til next year, the French com­pany's Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Jean-Bernard Levy said last month.

Voda­fone CEO Vit­to­rio Co­lao has said he is re­view­ing the SFR stake's fu­ture. Growth at the ven­ture is slow­ing and France is pre­par­ing for the en­try of a fourth mo­bile op­er­a­tor, dis­count broad­band provider Iliad SA, in 2012.

Voda­fone and Vivendi have both been in­ter­ested in buy­ing each other out of SFR since the French com­pany paid 4 bil­lion eu­ros ($5.3 bil­lion) in Jan­uary 2003 to gain con­trol of the com­pany that owned SFR, trump­ing an of­fer from Voda­fone.

Arun Sarin, Co­lao's pre­de­ces­sor, sought to buy the rest of SFR dur­ing his ten­ure be­tween 2003 and 2008, with Vivendi re­fus­ing to sell.

Bobby Leach and Ben Padovan, spokes­men for Voda­fone, did not re­spond to e-mails sent out­side of­fice hours, and Padovan could not be reached on his mo­bile­phone. An e-mail sent to An­toine Lefort, a spokesman for Vivendi, seek­ing com­ment on the re­port wasn't an­swered.

Voda­fone fell 1.9 per­cent, the most in a month, to 168.85 pounds in London trad­ing yes­ter­day. Vivendi rose 1.2 per­cent, the most in al­most three weeks, to 20.77 eu­ros in Paris trad­ing. Co­lao, a for­mer McKin­sey & Co. part­ner, has said he's re­view­ing all mi­nor­ity in­ter­ests amid pres­sure from share­hold­ers to squeeze more out of the in­vest­ments.

The com­pany said last month is plans to sell se­cu­ri­ties in Ja­panese wire­less op­er­a­tor Soft­bank Corp. for 3.1 bil­lion pounds as part of its plans to has­ten the dis­posal of mi­nor­ity as­sets to fo­cus on data ser­vices and other growth ar­eas. In Septem­ber, the com­pany sold a stake in China Mo­bile Ltd. for $6.5 bil­lion in the biggest di­vest­ment since Co­lao took charge. The CEO is also re­view­ing its stake in U. S. op­er­a­tor Ver­i­zon Wire­less.

The Bri­tish com­pany hasn't yet sig­naled that it's ready to i ni­ti­ate a sale, Vivendi Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Philippe Capron said on Nov. 15. -Cour­tesy Bloomberg

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.