Vodafone sells Softbank stake for £3.1bn as sales defy protesters

Vodafone took another step in its disposal programme yesterday, unveiling a £3.1bn sale of its interests in Japan's Softbank as it raised its full-year outlook.

The telecom group's involvement in Softbank stems from Softbank's purchase of Vodafone Japan in 2006. The deal left the UK group with a mix of securities, including preferred stock, in the Japanese carrier, which will buy back the interests.

Vodafone also posted interim results, raising its guidance for adjusted operating profits for the full year to between £11.8bn and £12.2bn, compared with between £11.2bn and £12bn previously.

In the six months to the end of September, organic revenues grew by 1.8 per cent to £22.6bn, beating market hopes of £22.3bn as Vodafone performed well across all its regions.

The results come on the heels of protests at some Vodafone stores by campaigners claiming that the company had been let off a tax bill of £6bn over its purchase of German telecom group Mannesmann. The allegations are denied by the company and HM Revenue and Customs, which has called the £6bn figure an "urban myth".

In July, Vodafone reached a £1.25bn settlement, which HMRC said followed "a rigorous examination of the facts and an intensive process of negotiation that tested the arguments of both parties".