Report: Vodafone may sell minority stake in SFR

Vodafone is mulling over the potential sale of its U.S. $10.9 billion stake in French mobile operator SFR to Vivendi. According to the Daily Mail, which cited unnamed sources, the operator is considering selling its 44 per cent stake in SFR as a way to bolster the company's balance sheet.

Industry insiders speculate that the proceeds from the sale of the SFR stake to Vivendi would help Vodafone until it is able to get its dividend payment from Verizon Wireless, which is expected to occur in 2012.

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has been offloading other Vodafone investments as a way to scale back the company's businesses in markets where it doesn't have a majority ownership. During the company's earnings call in November, Colao made it clear that Vodafone's minority holdings in nearly half a dozen international companies were no longer central to the group's long-term plans. At that time, the CEO also confirmed that he expects Verizon to start paying dividends again in 2012. Analysts believe this long anticipated dividend could provide Vodafone with around U.S. $5.4 billion.

In 2010, Colao sold Vodafone's 3 per cent holding in China Mobile for U.S. $6.7 billion and also agreed to sell Vodafone's interest in Japanese operator SoftBank for U.S. $4.8 billion.

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