Tata to rival Vodafone in bid for CWW

A SECOND bidder has entered the ring to fight for Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW), the ailing telecoms company which has already attracted the interest of Vodafone.

Tata Communications yesterday said it was “evaluating a possible cash offer for CWW”, but emphasised that “considerations are at a very preliminary stage.”

Its announcement comes just two weeks after telecoms giant Vodafone confirmed it was weighing up the benefits of bidding for CWW, sending the cable company’s shares up 45 per cent.

CWW’s stock yesterday rose a further 27 per cent – valuing the company at £851.6m – when Indian company Tata joined the race. It has until 5pm on 29 March to confirm or withdraw its intention to bid.

Based in Mumbai, Tata Communications owns one of the world’s largest and most advanced submarine cable networks and claims to be the sixth largest international internet carrier.

Its parent company Tata Group is the largest foreign investor in the UK, owning 19 British companies including landmark brands Tetley Tea and Jaguar Land Rover.

Cable & Wireless Worldwide has had a turbulent time of late and is currently on its third chief executive in the last year. Former boss John Pluthero was replaced by Gavin Darby following a £433m half-year loss.

But CWW is still attractive to buyers for its fixed line network in the UK, the extra capacity it would provide and its large corporate client base. CWW is the communications provider for 70 firms in the FTSE 100.

Analysts say private equity firms are probably eyeing CWW too.