Vodafone offloads Softbank stake for £3.1b

Vodafone has sold its holdings in Japanese telco and internet firm Softbank for £3.1 billion (€3.6b).
The UK-based cellco plans to sell the assets back to the Japanese firm in two tranches, with the first payment to be received by December and the second in April 2012.
Vodafone acquired 300 billion yen (€ 2.7b) worth of shares in a Softbank unit when it sold poorly-performing Vodafone Japan to Softbank for £8.9 billion in 2006.
The payment also included a 100 billion yen loan payable to Vodafone by 2013, which is also being divested, and a large cash component.
Vodafone had at the time estimated the value of the non-cash assets at £1.1 billion, and had bumped this up to £2.6 billion as of September 30.
Vodafone said it would use the proceeds to reduce net debt, which was a hefty £30.5 billion at the end of the first half.
Vodafone, which is being pressed by investors to shed its non-core assets, sold its 3.2% stake in China Mobile for £4.3 billion in September.
The disposal helped Vodafone improve its profit for the September half-year 56.5% to £7.5 billion.
The stake sale, as well as the settlement of a long-standing dispute with the UK government over the taxes owed from its sale of Mannesmann in 2000, contributed £2.8 billion to the result.
The global cellco grew revenue 3.9% to £22.6 billion for the period. Service revenue from APAC and the Middle East grew 22.2%, driven by gains at Indian venture Vodafone Essar, which added 14.7 million customers
The company has nearly 343.5 million subscribers worldwide, with 77.8% on prepaid plans.
Vodafone raised its operating profit guidance for the coming year by at least £200 million, and is now expecting to earn up to £12.2 billion.