Vodafone sells Egypt stake to Saudi group for USD2.4 billion

LONDON (AFP) – British telecoms group Vodafone said yesterday it had agreed to sell its majority stake in its Egyptian unit to Saudi Telecom Company for USD2.4 billion (EUR2.2 billion).

“This transaction is consistent with our efforts to simplify the group to two differentiated, scaled geographic regions – Europe and sub-Saharan Africa,” Vodafone Chief Executive Nick Read said in a statement.

He added that the cash sale for the 55 per cent holding in Vodafone Egypt would additionally reduce group debt and unlock value for Vodafone shareholders.

STC, in which the state holds a 70 per cent stake, said in a statement in Riyadh that the deal is non-binding and the final price of the stake will be determined upon signing a definitive agreement.

“The potential acquisition of Vodafone Egypt is in line with our expansion strategy in the MENA region,” STC CEO Nasser al-Nasser said.

“The transaction, which is still subject to detailed due diligence, confirms STC’s eagerness to maintain a leadership position” in the region, he said.

STC is the largest Arab telecom firm in terms of market value with a capitalisation of USD49 billion. It has operations in Kuwait, Bahrain and Malaysia.

Vodafone Egypt is the leading player in the Egyptian mobile market and serves over 40 million customers.

Vodafone’s share price was up 0.4 per cent at 157.28 pence following the announcement, while STC was trading 0.7 per cent down.

The logo of British mobile phone giant Vodafone at their retail shop in central London. PHOTO: AP