RealTime IT News

Vodafone Take Stake In Japan Telecom and Airtel

LONDON -- UK mobile operator pays more than expected for stakes in Japan Telecom and Spanish mobile phone group Airtel Vodafone has paid 3.7bn for BT's 20% stake in Japan's third largest telecoms firm and 1.1bn for an additional 17.8% of Airtel, in which it already has a 73% stake.

The deal increases Vodafone's holding in Japan Telecom to 45% and gives it close to full control of the mobile phone subsidiary, J-Phone.

On the financial markets however, Vodafone shares fell 3.7% to 198.5p over concerns the group might overstretch itself fiscally as BT had done. The deal is Vodafone's third acquisition of Japan Telecom shares since December.

And Vodafone is not yet finished, Chris Gent, Vodafone's CEO said the group might consider additional share holding increases in Japan Telecom and J-Phone. Earlier this week Vodafone bought US telecoms giant AT&T's 10% Japan Telecom stake for $1.35bn in cash.

For BT, not only does the deal go towards reducing its 30bn debt mountain, but it also means an end to the group's global expansion plans.

In selling Japan Telecom and its wireless unit J-Phone, BT loses a valuable foothold in a market that is respected worldwide considered at the heart of testing third-generation (3G) mobile phone technology.

The acquisition of BT's stake in Airtel increases Vodafone's holding to approximately 91.6% and makes it the sole telecom shareholder in Spain's second largest mobile phone operator.