UK-based mobile phone giant Vodafone [VOD.L] has agreed to sell its Japan Telecom fixed line business to US investment group Ripplewood Holdings for JPY262 billion (EUR1.96 billion), according to local newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun. Vodafone owns 67% of Japan Telecom Holdings, the third largest telecoms player in Japan, and has been trying to sell its fixed line operations for some time in order to concentrate on its core mobile business. It entered into discussions with Ripplewood early this year and in late May 2003 Japan Telecom helmsman Bill Morrow said though the parties had not yet reached agreement, they were “in the last throes” of negotiation. With the wireline assets sold, Japan Telecom – which is currently operating under the brandname J-Phone but will switch to the Vodafone banner in October – will become a solely wireless operator, in line with Vodafone’s wider global strategy. At the end of March 2003 J-Phone had 13.91 million customers, representing a market share of over 18%. Some 87.1% of its customer base subscribes to its mobile internet service J-SKY, while a massive 65% of its customers use camera-enabled handsets.