08 Sep 2010
Vodafone has arranged to sell its 3.2% stake in China Mobile for £4.3 billion ($6.6b), prompting speculation that more asset sales are on the way.
The UK operator will sell its 642.9 million shares to a group of banks including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS, FT.com said. These banks will then on-sell the stake on to institutional investors.
Vodafone plans to use 70% of the proceeds to buy back shares, with the remainder used to reduce its £33.3 billion net debt.
CEO Vittorio Colao flagged up plans to divest minority holdings in July, saying the company would focus on its core markets in Europe, Africa and India.
The sale of the China Mobile stake, which Vodafone acquired in 2000 and 2002 for around $3.3 billion, is its biggest divestment.
“Today’s transaction achieves a near doubling of Vodafone’s original investment in China Mobile,” Colao said.
China Mobile and Vodafone plan to continue to co-operate on mobile phone technology through a strategic alliance formed in 2000.