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Vodafone seeks bigger African presence

13 октября 2008

Vodafone Group PLC has offered its South African mobile joint venture partner Telkom SA 22.5 billion South African rand ($2.5 billion) for an extra 15% stake in Vodacom Group Ltd., which would give the British mobile giant a 65% controlling stake.

The acquisition is a likely platform for Vodafone to expand in fast-growing African markets. Vodacom is South Africa's largest mobile operator by subscribers and has operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania.

However, it has been held back from aggressively chasing Africa's dominant mobile player, South Africa's MTN Group Ltd., due to a pact between Telkom and Vodafone, which limited expansion.

The deal is still subject to conditions but has the approval of both the Telkom board and the South African government, which owns 38% of Telkom. As part of the deal, Telkom, Africa's largest fixed-line phone operator, would have to unbundle its remaining 35% stake in Vodacom to its shareholders through a listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Vodafone is targeting growth in emerging markets where mobile phone penetration rates remain much lower than in the U.S. and western Europe.

The company currently has roughly 33 million subscribers in Africa, and in August completed a $900 million deal to buy a 70% stake in state-owned Ghana Telecommunications.

Vodafone's aggressive expansion into emerging markets prompted new Chief Executive Vittorio Colao to split its unwieldy Emerging Markets, Asia Pacific and Affiliates division in two last month, appointing U.K. chief Nick Read to run its Asia-Pacific & Middle East region business and Morten Lundal to run Central Europe and Africa.

Jonathan Groocock at Investec Securities said the valuation of the stake is in line with previous expectations.

In June, Vodafone confirmed its was looking to buy a slightly smaller 12.5% stake in Vodacom for 18.75 billion rand. Vodafone closed Thursday down 2.3% at 119 pence (205 cents) in a lower London market. The stock has shed 30% of its value over the past 12 months.

Источник: Total Telecom

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