Vodafone has sparked fresh speculation about a sale of its Verizon Wireless stake, announcing the business will be taken out of its regional operations as part of a management shake-up.
A restructure on October 1 will see Verizon, SFR, Polkomtel and Bharti placed in a unit controlled directly by CEO Vittorio Colao, while other subsidiaries will fall under two new regional divisions covering Europe, and Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific.
Although Vodafone claims the shake-up is designed to streamline its business, the changes have sparked rumors that a sale of the firm’s 45% Verizon Wireless stake is imminent.
Colao has come under increasing pressure from shareholders to offload the stake, and previously said the firm has little interest in maintaining minority shares the Telegraph reported.
The first step in offloading minority stakes came earlier this week, when it sold its 3.2% holding in China Mobile for €5.2 billion.
A long-running dispute with Verizon means Vodafone hasn’t received a dividend payment from Verizon Wireless since 2005, making the investment a key focus for shareholder dissatisfaction, FT.com said.
That dissatisfaction resulted in a shareholder revolt against Vodafone’s board, with several investors voting against the re-appointment of Sir John Bond as chairman at an AGM in July.
The restructure sees Vodafone’s European division expanded to include its operations in Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Turkey, while overseas operations in emerging markets, New Zealand, Australia and Fiji are folded into a new Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific division.
Vodafone will also form a new division – Group Commercial -, which will be responsible for the firm’s Business Services, Global Enterprise and Partner Markets divisions, along with group marketing.