Mergers & acquisitions

Rumor: Vodafone to Sell African Asset

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is in talks to sell its majority holding in Vodafone Egypt , according to a report in the Financial Times.

The report says Vodafone could reap about £3 billion (US$4.3 billion) for its 54.9 percent stake in the operator if it sells to Telecom Egypt , which already owns a 44.95 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt.

Vodafone Egypt, the country's second largest operator, with more than 24.6 million customers and a 43 percent market share, generated revenues of £1.35 billion ($1.94 billion) and operating profits of £430 million ($618 million), in the 12 months to the end of March 2010. (See Vodafone Hits Data Milestone.)

Despite that strong position, the mobile giant, which ended March with about 314 million customers worldwide, might consider the offer for two reasons: The Egyptian market is likely to become more competitive now that the ownership issues that have dogged the market leader are settled; and Vodafone has just spent a small fortune securing new capacity in two of its key markets. (See FT, Orascom Agree on Mobinil.)

The carrier has just committed to spending nearly $2.5 billion and $1.8 billion for new spectrum in India and Germany, respectively. (See German Spectrum Auction Ends, Raises €4.4B and India's 3G Auction Ends, Raises $14.6B.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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