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Paulson & Co exits position in Vodafone Group

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Aug. 18 2020, Updated 4:45 a.m. ET

Paulson sells stake in Vodafone Group

Paulson exited a significant position in Vodafone Group (VOD) in the fourth quarter that ended in December. The position accounted for 3.65% of Paulson’s third-quarter portfolio. The fund also lowered its stakes in telecom peers Verizon Communications (VZ) and Sprint (S). At the same time, it raised slightly its position in T-Mobile (TMUS)—by 319,900 shares.

Vodafone makes up 0.12% of the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (VGK).

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Overview of Vodafone Group

Vodafone is one of the world’s largest telecom companies and provides a range of services:

  • voice
  • messaging
  • data
  • fixed communications

It has mobile operations in 26 countries, partners with mobile networks in 52 more, and has fixed-broadband operations in 17 markets. As of June 30, 2014, Vodafone had 436 million mobile customers and 9 million fixed-broadband customers.

Vodafone denies bid for Liberty Global

United Kingdom-based telecom major Vodafone has been trying to transform itself into a pay-TV and broadband company. In keeping with this strategy, the company has acquired more cable and wireline operations and has exited some of its wireless businesses. It acquired Kabel Deutschland, the largest cable operator in Germany, as well as Spanish cable operator Ono. In August, the company acquired security and telematics provider Cobra Automotive Technologies SpA, as well as a 72.7% stake in Greece-based Hellas Online from World Equities Investments Holdings.

Vodafone has denied speculation that it’s exploring a potential tie-up with John Malone’s Liberty Global Plc, the cable operator that owns Virgin Media.

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Acquisition rumors last year

Vodafone itself is considered an attractive acquisition target and has seen continual speculation of potential interest from AT&T (T) and Japan-based SoftBank. Vodafone shares were up in August 2014 on fresh rumors that AT&T executives were working on a bid for the company.

Vodafone posts better than expected results

Vodafone Group revenue for fiscal 3Q15 was $16.52 billion, or 10.9 billion British pounds, and group service revenue was 9.8 billion British pounds. On an organic basis, group service revenue decreased 0.4%. The results were termed better than expected, as the service revenue decline was slower amid recovery in the company’s European markets.

A release noted that “growth in India has accelerated again, driven by data. In Europe, improved commercial execution in both mobile and fixed over the last few quarters, combined with strong data demand and a more stable pricing environment, is supporting the steady recovery in the top line.”

The next part of this series will look at Paulson & Co.’s exit from AbbVie.

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