LONDON (Reuters) - Vodafone (VOD.L) said on Monday it would sell its stake in Vodafone Qatar (VFQS.QA) to its joint venture partner, the Qatar Foundation, for 301 million euros ($371 million) but keep its red brand present in the country under a future partnership deal.
Qatar has faced an embargo from Arab countries since June last year and the business has not been one of the stronger performers in the Vodafone portfolio, but a person familiar with the situation said the decision stemmed from its wider move to sell assets it did not control.
The world’s second biggest mobile operator has spent several years selling minority stakes under its Chief Executive Vittorio Colao, who is seeking to streamline the sprawling group, exiting countries such as Poland, China and France.
Vodafone and the Qatar Foundation, a semi-private educational organization founded by the emir’s father, hold 45 percent of Vodafone Qatar through a joint venture, with the rest of the operator owned by the government of Qatar and other investors.
Vodafone holds 51 percent of the joint venture.
The British company said despite the sale its brand would remain in Qatar as part of a partnership agreement that will run for an initial term of five years.
The transaction values Vodafone Qatar, which provides mobile and fixed-line services to around 1.4 million customers, at an enterprise value of 1.45 billion euros.
“We have experienced great success over the years in building our joint business in Qatar and always enjoyed a strong working relationship with the Qatar Foundation,” said Vivek Badrinath, head of Vodafone’s Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific region said.
“As the company embarks in a new phase of its journey, we now look forward to continuing our involvement with the business through a long-term, branded partnership agreement and are committed to its ongoing success.”
Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Paul Sandle and Louise Heavens