Vodafone Gets Backing As Orbis Drops Opposition

Vodafone Gets Backing As Orbis Drops Opposition

After receiving backing from the largest investor, Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) marched forward on Monday in its quest to take over Cable&Wireless Worldwide PLC (PINK:CBWWF). The deal is valued at £1.04 billion ($1.63 billion).

The institutional investor, Orbis, with its 19 percent share in Cable & Wireless, said it would discontinue its opposition to Vodafone’s offer after previously saying the bid had undervalued Cable & Wireless, which is the owner of the largest fiber-optic telecommunications system for Britain businesses.

Now Orbis has said Vodafone’s takeover could succeed even if they voted against it. In a Orbis statement, it said, “In these circumstances, our opposition would only serve to prolong the process.”

With their support, Vodafone is now open to finishing its deal as Cable & Wireless shareholders meet on Monday to vote on the bid. According to The New York Times, under 60 percent of them have supported Vodafone’s takeover.

From the acquisition, Vodafone–the world’s second-largest mobile-phone operator–will utilize Cable & Wireless’s fiber network to increase its U.K. fixed-line system and alleviate the pressure from increasing data traffic on its mobile-phone network from customers using smartphones such as Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and devices using Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s  Android.

At first, Vodafone will be separate from Cable & Wireless but look for the company to combine the British network into its infrastructure.

Nick Brown, an analyst at London’s Espirito Santo, said via Bloomerg, “Given the amount of synergies available to Vodafone, any integration costs are likely to be more than offset by those savings.”

In April, Vodafone offered 38 pence cash for each share of Cable & Wireless; this represented a 92 percent premium to the company’s February share price prior to Vodafone first expressing interest.

The market responded well to Orbis’ news as Cable&Wireless shares jumped as high as 2.97 pence to 38 pence before trading at  37.79 pence as of 9:45 a.m. reported Bloomberg. This gave the company a $1.04 billion pound value and since Vodafone made its offer, the stock hasn’t traded above 38 pence. After being taken apart from its parent company back in March 2010, Cable & Wireless once had a 2.4 billion pound value.

But in the last two years, Cable & Wireless has lost 58 percent of its market value. In May, the company reported that its EBITDA for the year ending March 31 dropped 15 percent to 378 million pounds; this missed analysts’ 383 million pound estimates.


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