Vodafone reported to be ready to offload SFR stake

A report in UK broadsheet The Sunday Times on September 12th claimed that Vodafone has placed a £7bn (US$10.78bn) price tag on its 44 per cent stake in French mobile carrier SFR. The report follows a reorganisation to Vodafone’s structure late last week, in which certain assets were left out of new portfolios, with management given a remit to “maximise shareholder value” from them.

Polish carrier Polkomtel, Indian player Bharti and the much-discussed stake in US player Verizon Wireless joined SFR on that list. Last week Vodafone divested its 3.2 per cent stake in China Mobile for £4.3bn before tax as part of its realignment to focus on core markets and majority shareholdings.

Vodafone has issued no comment on the report.

Of more interest will be any decision that the UK-based carrier will take on its minority holding in North American operator Verizon Wireless. The stake has long been a source of tension between Vodafone and fellow shareholder Verizon, with each understood to have been keen to secure outright ownership at different times. Previously the two firms’ divergent technology paths have been cited as a key incompatibility, with Verizon a CDMA-based operation and Vodafone a stalwart of the GSM family of standards. That difference is set to be overcome with Verizon’s planned move to LTE.

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