Vodafone seeks to raise Polkomtel stake, shares fall

Vodafone is seeking talks with fellow shareholders in Poland's second-largest mobile operator with the probable aim of increasing its stake, according to the Financial Times.
 
This is the latest twist to a long-running and complicated tale concerning Polkomtel's ownership. In 2006 Vodafone objected to plans by Denmark's TDC to sell its stake in Polkomtel. The matter was referred to arbitration.

Last week the tribunal ruled that TDC can sell 14.8% of its 19.6% stake to four state-controlled Polish companies.
 
It is thought that TDC has been advised to talk to Vodafone about its acquisition of the outstanding 4.8%. If it goes through, this would raise Vodafone's holding from 19.6%  to 24.4%. There is also speculation that the Polish government's privatisation programme might eventually allow  Vodafone to control Polkomtel.
 
In a statement yesterday, Vodafone said, 'Vodafone's key concerns have been supported by the arbitration panel . . . to move this matter to a swift conclusion, Vodafone will be speaking to all the other shareholders in the coming weeks.' TDC said it was studying the tribunal's ruling.
 
According to the Financial Times, a source close to the dispute between Polkomtel's shareholders said the four state-controlled Polish companies had no interest in managing the mobile operator and were hoping that the TDC transaction would drive up the price Vodafone would be willing to pay them for their shares.
 
The world largest operator by revenue made no mention yesterday of its sticky day on the stock market on Monday when its shares fell almost 4%.

This was in reaction to Morgan Stanley's analysts recommending that investors should sell not buy shares in Vodafone because of fears that intervention by the European Commission could reduce prof its at Vodafone's European mobile businesses by £900 million (€1.140 billion) between 2009 and 2012 or an 8% cut in the Group's interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. Other analysts disagreed, saying that it would amount to no more than a 2% cut.
 
Ms Reding claims termination rates are de facto subsidies for the European mobile industry, and wants the charges to reflect the true costs of connecting calls to networks.

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