Vodafone has agreed to sell its 44% shareholding in French mobile network operator SFR to Vivendi. The deal is worth around £6.8 billion, with £4 billion being ‘returned’ to Vodafone shareholders through a share buy-back. Existing commercial co-operation between Vodafone and SFR will be maintained through a Partner Market agreement.
Everything’s expected to be completed by June, subject to competition authority and regulatory approval.
Vittorio Colao, Chief Executive of Vodafone, 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. In addition, we have secured a valuable partnership agreement in France which will allow us to continue to deliver compelling cross-border services to both consumer and enterprise customers across the major markets of western Europe. By returning £4bn to our shareholders, we are increasing our current buy-back programme to £6.8bn in total, equivalent to over 7% of Vodafone's current market capitalisation.”
This news comes a few days after Vodafone agreed to buy the remaining stake in its Indian joint venture with Essar. It’s spending around £3 billion on 33% of the business. The company took control of Vodafone Essar in 2007.