C&W doubles its stake in Optus

Cable & Wireless unveiled a further expansion of its interests in the fast-growing Asia Pacific region yesterday, with a pounds 445m deal to double its stake in Australia's second-largest phone and cable TV group.

The agreement, revealed in The Independent last week, involves C&W buying the 24.5 per cent shareholding in the company, Optus Communications, for A$980m (pounds 445m) from its long-standing investor, BellSouth of the US. C&W already owns another 24.5 per cent of Optus, taking its total shareholding in the Sydney-based group to 49 per cent.

The deal is the latest in a string of agreements secured since Dick Brown, C&W's chief executive, joined the company a year ago. The news helped push its shares 18p higher in yesterday's buoyant trading to 570.5p.

C&W recently took over management control by appointing Peter Howell- Davies, former head of Mercury, as chief executive. Two other senior UK managers moved across to Australia at the same time.

C&W has also gained an option to increase its stake in Optus up to 51.5 per cent and Robert Lerwell, finance director, hinted it could increase its holding. "We don't think it's essential, but we'd have to look at the time. We may do it if it was good value and assuming the Australian government was happy for us to go higher."

Another 25 per cent Optus shareholder, Mayne Nickless, has also indicated it wanted to reduce its stake. Optus had been expected to float itself later this year, enabling Mayne Nickless to find an exit route, but Mr Lerwell suggested this could be delayed. "It could be one year, two years or three years. We don't know."

Created in 1992, Optus has 18 per cent of the country's long distance phone market, with 1.9 million customers and 32 per cent of the mobile market. Its cable network also offers pay television services to 180,000 homes. Optus made its first full-year profit last year of A$60m.

Mr Lerwell said C&W would fund the acquisition partly with the proceeds of the sale of a 5.5 per cent stake in Hongkong Telecom, which raised pounds 770m at the current exchange rate. The Australian deal, coupled with C&W's $652m (pounds 407.5m) purchase of Panama's telephones operator, meant C&W's gearing would rise to almost 70 per cent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high