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Vodafone is to flog its troubled Japanese operation to Softbank for £8.9bn (Y1.8 trillion), the monster cellco confirmed today.

Its retreat from Japan follows bucket loads of speculation about the future of the business, confirmed earlier this month when Voda announced that it was in talks to sell the business.

Although Vodafone Japan had some 14m subscribers in July 2005 - putting it in third place behind DoCoMo and KDDI - recently it has seen revenue and prospects slide.

Voda insists it has has been making "progress on the turnaround in recent months". However, due to increased competition in Japan, "reduced prospects for superior long term returns" and SoftBank's tempting offer of almost £9bn, Voda decided the deal was good for shareholders.

Indeed, once the sale is compete the cellco intends to return £6bn to investors, equivalent to around 10p a share.

"I am pleased to announce this transaction which represents a good outcome for Vodafone," said Voda boss Arun Sarin, who has been under pressure in recent weeks following damaging allegations of boardroom splits.

Shares in Vodafone were up 2p (1.54 per cent) at 132p in early morning trading. ®

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