Vodafone in bidding war for South African Telkom

Until yesterday, all seemed to be going according to plan with regard to how the remaining shares of Telkom, the South African state-owned fixed and mobile operator, would be privatised. The plan was for Vodafone to acquire control of Vodacom, Telkom's mobile arm in which Vodafone all ready has a significant shareholding, while Mvelaphanda Holdings would purchase Telkom's fixed line element. But this comfortable arrangement has been shot to pieces by the news that both companies have made bids for the whole group, with the ultimate aim of owning Telkom's Vodacom stake.

Analysts believe that the two bids, which are unsolicited, are structured in a similar manner. There is also speculation that a third party, in the shape of local businessman, Barend Hendricks--with the backing of ANC leaders, might make an offer to buy a smaller portion of Telkom. Vodafone will not want to enter a protracted and costly bidding war--the on-going saga surrounding the bids for MTN is a leading example, having made what appears to be a successful acquisition of Ghana Telecom and currently negotiating to purchase a stake in Nigeria Telecom.

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