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Vodafone Eyeing SFR Buy?

Following persistent rumours that Vodafone is in talks to sell off its stake in US operator Verizon Wireless, it seems Big Red is now turning its attention to acquisitions.

According to a report in The Telegraph, Vodafone is circling SFR, the French mobile operator it part owns.

The talk has been prompted by news that a minority shareholder with one per cent equity in French conglomerate Vivendi, which is Vodafone's partner in the joint venture, proposed the break-up of the group and the sale of its mobile unit.

The mooted break-up was rebuffed by Vivendi but has led Vodafone to keep a close eye on Vivendi, with a view to a possible bid.

Analysts believe that while Vodafone is likely to be interested in taking full control of SFR, it is unlikely to make a hostile approach. The operator tried once before to take over SFR. Back in 2002, Vodafone attempted to buy Cegetel, Vivendi's subsidiary and also the telecoms company that owned SFR, for ??6.77bn.

In other news, Vodafone announced it has created a joint venture with Softbank, which recently purchased the Japanese arm of Vodafone's business. The new company will work on creating new features and handsets for the Japanese market.

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