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Vodafone Sells SFR Stake to Vivendi for $11 Billion

04 апреля 2011

After years of speculation, Vodafone has finally agreed to sell its entire 44% stake in the French mobile network, SFR to its 56% shareholder Vivendi for a cash consideration of EUR7.75 billion (US$11 billion).

The price being paid is a significant premium on the US$9.6 billion that Vivendi was recently reported to be unwilling to exceed.

Vodafone will also receive a final dividend from Sfr of EUR200 million (US$285 million) on completion of the transaction. In addition, Vodafone and SFR will enter into a Partner Market agreement which will maintain their commercial co-operation.

A total of £4 billion (US$6.4 billion) of the net proceeds will be returned to shareholders by way of a share buy-back with the remainder of the proceeds used to reduce the Group's net debt. The share buy-back will be carried out after the completion of the existing programme which is expected to be completed in June 2011.

At 30 September 2010 the SFR investment had a carrying value of EUR4.9 billion in Vodafone's accounts.

Vodafone's shareholding in SFR contributed £573 million to Vodafone's adjusted operating profit in the financial year to 31 March 2010, and £284 million in the six months to 30 September 2010.

Commenting on the transaction, Vittorio Colao, Chief Executive of Vodafone said: "Our Board remains committed to realising maximum value from our non-controlled assets. The sale of our stake in SFR, at an attractive multiple, represents a significant further step in the execution of this strategy. In addition, we have secured a valuable partnership agreement in France which will allow us to continue to deliver compelling cross-border services to both consumer and enterprise customers across the major markets of western Europe.

"By returning £4bn to our shareholders, we are increasing our current buy-back programme to £6.8bn in total, equivalent to over 7% of Vodafone's current market capitalisation."

Back in 2003, Vodafone lost a battle with Vivendi for control of the French GSM network, Sfr after Vivendi exercised an option to buy British Telecom's 26% stake in Cegetel, which gave it 70% control of the company. Cegetel itself controls 80% of the GSM network, SFR - hence Vivendi now has an effective 56.1% controlling interest in the network.

Vodafone controlled the remaining 43.9% of SFR though direct and indirect shareholdings.

Источник: Cellular news

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