Vodafone eyes to buy Vodacom stake

Vodafone has offered to buy a further 12.5% stake in mobile operator Vodacom for €1.5 billion (US$2.4 billion) from South Africa's Telkom , while Mvelaphanda Group may lead a bid for Telkom minus the Vodacom stake, a Reuters report said.

Shares in Telkom jumped over 15% due to the development, the report added.

The transactions around Telkom signals further consolidation in the South African telecoms sector after sub-Saharan Africa's biggest mobile phone operator MTN said last week it was in talks with India's Reliance Communications over a transaction that could create a €42.4 billion (US$66 billion) emerging markets telecoms group.

South African newspaper reports said the bid by a consortium led by Mvelaphanda Group, headed by prominent black businessman Tokyo Sexwale who is one of South Africa's richest men, may be worth up to €7.5 billion (US$11.6 billion).

Vodafone said its bid was conditional on Telkom unbundling or spinning off its remaining 37.5% stake in Vodacom to its existing shareholders, the Reuters report added.

Vodacom is jointly owned by Vodafone and Telkom, Africa's biggest fixed-line telephone company.

The South African government owns 38% of Telkom, state pension administrator Public Investment Corporation 15% and black investment group, the Elephant Consortium another 6%.

A Vodacom source said Vodafone wanted to obtain a controlling stake in Vodacom without having to dilute its equity stake by selling off a part of the South African mobile phone group to black investors under the country's black economic empowerment program.

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