Vodafone plans full control

Vodafone Group Plc plans to buy out holders of the remaining 25.205 percent of Panafon it does not own for 6.18 euros per share, the UK-based company said yesterday in a stock market filing. Vodafone currently owns 74.795 percent of Panafon, Greece’s No 2 mobile phone service provider, in terms of client numbers. Its offer will run from tomorrow to February 2, 2004. The move comes days after Vodafone’s purchase of a 9.4 percent holding, of 51.25 million shares, in Panafon from Greek telecom equipment-maker Intracom, also at 6.18 euros a share. The sale was concluded last Friday. Vodafone had signaled plans in the past to buy out minority shareholders in its listed subsidiaries worldwide. Earlier this year, it took full control of its Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch and Maltese units. In its filing, Vodafone said its offer amounted to a premium of 6.9 percent, or 0.4 euro per share, against the average, volume-weighted market price of Panafon shares during the 12-month period to November 28, which came to 5.78 euros. Goldman Sachs is advising Vodafone on the tender, and the local manager is Alpha Bank. The tender’s prospectus will be published following approval by Greece’s securities regulator. Panafon, with the 10th-largest weighting in the Athens bourse’s blue-chip index, is up 11.6 percent on the year to date. Its shares slipped 0.3 percent to close at 6.14 euros on Monday. Its delisting will leave CosmOTE and Infoquest subsidiary Q-Telecom representing the wireless telephony sector on the Athens Stock Exchange. (Reuters)