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20.11.2008 Business & Finance

Vodafone Targets Nigeria Market

By Bloomberg - newtimesonline.com

Vodafone Group Plc, the world's largest mobile-phone company, says it is considering expansion in Nigeria to tap growth in that  country.

Nigeria has a rapidly growing telecommunications market and a young population, Chief Executive Officer, Vittorio Colao, said yesterday at a conference organised by Morgan Stanley in Barcelona.

It “doesn't take sophisticated analysis to see” why the African country is interesting for Vodafone, he said.

Vodafone has expanded in emerging markets in the past two years with acquisitions in Turkey, India, South Africa and Ghana to make up for slower growth in Europe.

Colao reiterated yesterday that there are still several markets where the Newbury, England- based company would like to expand. Such deals may be financed through the sale of other assets, he said.

“We regularly review the assets, look at the return we can get and look at the alternatives that we have,” he said.

The company will “keep an open mind” if the returns of assets are not as high as demanded or “if someone else has an interest in delivering more value out of the same assets,” Colao said.

Asked about purchases to expand Vodafone's business in established markets, Colao said he is “supportive of potential opportunities” which help create value for shareholders and cut costs.

He said last week that the company aims to expand its existing operations instead of expanding into new markets.

Colao yesterday reiterated that double-digit price declines in “mature” markets will continue.

He also reiterated he is “happy” with a 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless, the second-biggest U.S. mobile-phone company. “Staying where we are is the best thing” at the moment, he said.

Verizon Communications Inc. owns the remaining 55 per cent of Verizon Wireless. Investors including Adam Steiner, head of research at SVG Investment Managers, have predicted Vodafone will sell the Verizon Wireless stake.

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