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Tue, Jul 15, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Vodafone to decide on Japanese fixed-line unit


British mobile phone giant Vodafone will decide next month about the sale of its fixed-line phone business in Japan to US investment fund Ripplewood Hold-ings LLC, a group spokeswoman said yesterday.

"There will be some kind of decision on the matter in a month's time," said Shiori Oka, spokeswoman for Vodafone-controlled Japan Telecom Holdings.

Vodafone had agreed to the sale of Japan Telecom, the fixed-line phone business of Vodafone subsidiary Japan Telecom Holdings, for a price of Japanese Yen 262 billion (US$2.2 billion), a report said Saturday.

Ripplewood would overhaul Japan Telecom's cost structure and place an emphasis on fixed-line operations targeting regular consumers, an area that offers a stable revenue source, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported.

Ripplewood would raise Japanese Yen 200 billion through loans from financial institutions and pay most of the remaining Japanese Yen 62 billion into a fund that would buy all of Japan Telecom's shares, the paper said.

Vodafone would take a 10 percent to 20 percent stake in the fund, thus maintaining ties with Japan Telecom, it said.

Japan Telecom president William Morrow will remain in office after the sale, the paper said.

Ripplewood's Tokyo-based spokesman said a decision was imminent, but that the final price tag had not yet been decided.

"We will make an announcement when everything is settled," said spokesman Atsushi Kuse.

Vodafone took control of Japan Telecom's mobile and fixed line business in late 2001. It said in February Ripplewood was interested in buying its Japanese fixed-line telecoms business.

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