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Vodafone buys control of Vodacom from Telkom SA
|07 ноября 2008|
Vodafone Group PLC, the world's largest mobile phone operator by revenue, Thursday said it will buy control of South African operator Vodacom Group Ltd. in a 22.5 billion rand ($2.3 billion) deal that sets it up for further acquisitions in Africa.
The Newbury, England-based company will buy a further 15% interest in Vodacom from venture partner Telkom SA Ltd., bringing its stake to 65%. It will also take on Vodacom debt of roughly ZAR1.55 billion.
With mobile phone penetration rates in Africa among the lowest anywhere, phone companies have increasingly been looking to the continent for customer growth. MTN Group Ltd., Africa's largest operator with businesses in 21 countries, has led the charge in Africa and earlier this year attracted merger offers from two Indian operators.
Vodafone said the Vodacom identity will be maintained and the company will become its exclusive investment vehicle for acquisitions in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding Ghana and Kenya where Vodafone already is present.
"We will continue to support the management team in their strategy of transforming Vodacom into a full service provider in Africa," Vodafone Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said.
News of the exit from Vodacom helped buoy shares in Telkom, which by 1215 GMT were trading 2.2% higher at ZAR118 amid a sharp decline in the wider Johannesburg market. Vodafone was trading down 4.1% at 112 pence.
Vodacom will be listed on the Johannesburg securities exchange and Pretoria-based Telkom said it will spin off its remaining 35% stake in the joint venture to its shareholders. It will also return half the proceeds from the sale to its investors via a special dividend.
Vodacom is South Africa's largest operator by subscribers and has subscribers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania. As of March, it had more than 34 million subscribers, most of which were in South Africa.
Telkom has been reviewing its holding in Vodacom for more than a year and CEO Reuben September said it had increasingly been evident a restrictive shareholders pact with Vodafone meant it was logical to exit the venture.
September said the company would look to "selectively" build wireless networks in African markets, but it would look to use the backbone of an existing mobile operator in South Africa rather than establish a competitor.
"We don't intend to be a fourth national operator" in South Africa, he said. MTN, Vodacom and Cell C already have a strong footprint in the country.
September said Telkom's ability to act independently or realize potential benefits of an integrated strategy with Vodacom were limited by the joint control structure of the venture. The company would now focus on its fixed-line activities and introduce mobile services as part of an integrated package for customers, he said.
The companies expect the deal to complete in the first half of 2009, subject to regulatory and Telkom shareholder approval.
Vodafone said South Africa's government and state-owned fund manager Public Investment Corp., which together own 58% of Telkom, have agreed to support the deal and will retain a 10% stake in Vodacom for one year after its listing.
JP Morgan advised Telkom on the deal, while Vodafone was advised by UBS.
Источник: Total Telecom