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Vodafone grabs £7bn, leaves France

Sells off French assets to Vivendi

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Vodafone is selling its minority shareholding in French operator SFR, netting €7.95bn by flogging 44 per cent of SFR and giving Vivendi complete ownership.

Vivendi already owns 56 per cent of mobile, fixed-line, broadband and TV supplier SFR, which boasts 20 million customers, but once the deal is completed, Vivendi will own the whole company. SFR and Vodafone will maintain a Partner Market agreement covering roaming and commercial cooperation.

Vodafone will hand back some of the cash to shareholders, buying back £4bn worth of its own shares; the rest will be dropped in the debt pile. Explaining the move, Voda's CEO Vittorio Colao talked about focusing on wholly-owned operations, rather than those over which Vodafone has less than complete control. He said:

"Our Board remains committed to realising maximum value from our non-controlled assets. The sale of our stake in SFR, at an attractive multiple, represents a significant further step in the execution of this strategy." ®

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