LONDON – UK’s mobile telecoms giant Vodafone has decided to part ways with its 25 percent stake in Belgian company Proximus. The world’s largest mobile phone operator has agreed to sell Proximus to Belgacom for €2 billion in cash.
Belgacom already owns 75 percent of the group and will now assume full ownership. “We have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Belgacom, and together have built the leading mobile operator in Belgium. We do not, however, see ourselves as the most appropriate long-term holder of this minority stake,” said Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin. “In line with our strategy of actively managing our portfolio and maximizing returns, we have achieved an attractive price with this sale.”
Belgium’s top mobile operator, Belgacom also announced that it had agreed to sell 5.8 percent stake in Neuf Cegetel to French media group Vivendi’s. “The group now has all the necessary assets to address the current market evolutions, while maintaining its leadership position in Belgium,” commented Belgacom Chief Executive Officer Didier Bellens.
The sale of the Belgian business is another blow for Vodafone, which has been forced to withdraw from many international markets. In January, Vodafone exited Sweden and in April sold off its Japanese business. Chief executive Arun Sarin has faced increased pressure to deliver results. But for the present sale, he said the company would not receive anticipated dividend income of £150 million from Proximus this year. Consequently there will be a “reduction in its free cash flow outlook for the year end,” he added.