UK-based mobile giant Vodafone Group is nearing a deal to offload its 44% stake in French fixed and mobile group SFR for an estimated GBP7 billion (USD11 billion), thus preparing the ground for a GBP5 billion share buy-back of its own stock in 2011. Vodafone’s Vittorio Colao has been negotiating a deal with French media conglomerate Vivendi, the firm that owns the remaining shares in SFR. Last month TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate confirmed that Vivendi was looking to acquire Vodafone’s 44% holding in their French mobile joint venture, although shareholders remain wary of paying too much for the asset.
Vodafone’s decision to exit SFR follows decisions to withdraw from non-core operations in Japan and China, with the disposal of a Polish holding about to follow. Colao is thought to be close to announcing a GBP800 million deal involving the disposal of its 24% stake in Polkomtel as part of a wider plan designed to streamline its international portfolio.