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Vodafone flogs stake in Japanese carrier for £3.1bn

Needs cash to chip at debt

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Vodafone is to sell its non-controlling stake in the Japanese carrier Softbank for £3.1bn, it announced today.

It follows the disposal of its 3.2 per cent interest in China Mobile in September. The cash from both sales will be used to pay down debts and placate investors with share buybacks.

The group said it will now focus on markets in Europe, Africa and India.

The announcement came alongside strong half-year results. Revenues were up 3.9 per cent on the same period a year ago, to £22.6bn. Adjusted operating profits rose 2.7 per cent, to £6.07bn.

EBITDA fell by 1.2 per cent to £7.36bn. However, the slip was smaller than investors expected. The full year profit forecast was raised to between £11.8bn and £12.2bn.

Vodafone still faces anger in the UK over its tax affairs. Protestors closed its high street stores in October over a deal with HMRC that will see an estimated £6bn bill unpaid. Vodafone has declined to comment on the settlement.

At time of writing the firm's shares were trading up almost three per cent. ®

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