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.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London