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3G/HSPA

Vodafone Turns Attention to Poland

Continuing August's M&A hot streak, Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has begun talks to bolster its presence in Eastern Europe, while edging closer to completing its previously announced acquisition in the African nation of Ghana.

In Ghana, the country's parliament voted Thursday to approve Vodafone's $900 million acquisition of Ghana Telecom , a deal announced in early July but one that has attracted some local opposition. According to a report from the Ghanaian Times, the vote on the deal was 124 in favor and 74 against. (See Vodafone Buys Into Ghana for $900M.)

In Europe, the mobile giant is in talks with TDC A/S (Copenhagen: TDC) about buying a 4.8 percent stake in Polish operator Polkomtel SA from the Danish incumbent. Vodafone already owns a 19.61 percent stake in the mobile carrier, which provides GSM and 3G services to about 13 million customers under its Plus GSM brand. (See TDC, VOD in Stake Talks .)

Some reports have suggested Vodafone will seek to buy additional stakes in Polkomtel from the operator's four Polish stakeholders, with the Financial Times suggesting that oil firm PKN Orlen, which also holds a 19.6 percent stake, is looking to offload its holding. Previous media reports have suggested PKN would seek a price of around €1 billion ($1.47 billion) for its stake.

Vodafone says the talks with TDC are ongoing, but adds that there's no guarantee of a deal being finalized. Vodafone says it can't provide a valuation on TDC's stake at present.

With regards to holding discussions with other Polkomtel shareholders, a Vodafone spokesman says there's "nothing cooking at the moment."

However, Vodafone, which is keen to continue building its presence in so-called "emerging markets" such as Poland, would likely not stop at snapping up TDC's small stake: Its stated strategy on investments is that it prefers to hold majority, controlling stakes in operators, so it's likely the mobile giant will approach Polkomtel's other shareholders about potential acquisitions. (See Vodafone Eyes Emerging Acquisitions.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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