C&W to net $1bn from sale of minority stakes

Cable & Wireless, the UK's fast-growing telecommunications company, is expected to make up to $1bn (pounds 590m) on the sale of minority stakes, including those in mobile phone networks in Colombia and South Africa .

Chief Executive, Richard Brown said the company will sell its 22.3 per cent stake in Colombia's OCCEL and the 25 per cent it owns of South Africa's MTN because they do not fit in with the company's strategy of concentrating on ventures where it has complete management control.

With operations in 72 countries, the City had accused Cable & Wireless of spreading its resources too thinly under the company's previous management. Mr Brown took up the post in July.

"Mobile phone assets are attracting a substantial premium over other telecoms assets because it's an area that's on a rampant growth path," said Doug Hawkins, telecommunications analyst at Nomura Research Institute.

C&W made a gain of pounds 199m when it sold a 5 per cent stake in German Mannesmann Mobilfunk in September 1995.

C&W said it expected to sell all the stakes at a profit. It declined to say how much it has invested to date in OCCEL and MTN, both start-up ventures.

US phone company BellSouth is likely to buy the OCCEL stake, as part of an agreement earlier this year when C&W bought BellSouth's 25 per cent stake in Optus Communications, the second largest telephone company in Australia, giving it control.

Copyright: IOS & Bloomberg

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