Vodafone shoots for European domination

Vodafone has agreed to acquire BT’s and SBC’s entire interests in French telecoms group Cegetel for 6.3 billion Euros in cash.

The deal comprises 4.0 billion Euros for BT’s 26% interest and 2.3 billion Euros for SBC’s 15% interest.

In addition, Vodafone has also made a non-binding cash offer of 6.77 billion Euros to Vivendi for its 44% interest in Cegetel, an offer that is open until October 30. Vodafone’s offer is at the same price per share as that agreed with BT and SBC.

Vivendi has until November 10 2002 to block either or both of the BT and SBC acquisitions.

If successful in its moves, Vodafone would control a mobile network in each of the five largest European Markets.

‘Our investment in France, which began 14 years ago, is a long-term commitment and I am therefore pleased we have reached agreement to increase our ownership in Cegetel and SFR,’ said Christopher Gent, Chief Executive of Vodafone.

‘We believe that SFR’s natural home is within the Vodafone Group, where it can fully benefit from being part of the leading global mobile operator. Whilst we are not obliged to do so, we have made an equivalent cash offer to Vivendi which would enable it to realise value for its shareholders from its investment in Cegetel. On the other hand, should Vivendi wish to maintain or increase its interest in Cegetel, we would be happy to continue working as partners in France, as we have been doing since 1988,’ he added.

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