Vodafone wins key support for £1bn CWW deal

FONE

FONE’S £1.04bn offer for Cable & Wireless Worldwide was yesterday approved by shareholders after the bid’s main objector withdrew its opposition.

After weeks of threatening to vote against the deal, fund manager Orbis – which owns 19 per cent of CWW’s stock – surrendered yesterday morning after the telecoms company revealed it already had the backing of 59 per cent of its investors.

The news sent CWW’s shares rocketing, closing just shy of 38p in a vast improvement on CWW’s 20p share price before Vodafone admitted it was considering a bid.

Orbis, which had criticised Vodafone’s 38p per share offer for undermining the value inherent in CWW, said: “We now believe that the [deal] will eventually succeed, even if Orbis were to vote against it today... Our opposition would only serve to prolong the process. This is not in the interests of any CWW stakeholder.”

The scheme, which needed 75 per cent shareholder approval in order for Vodafone to win total control of CWW, was backed by 99 per cent of the vote.

Subject to regulatory and antitrust approval as well as certain other conditions, CWW’s last day on the London Stock Exchange is expected to be 25 July, with the takeover scheme becoming effective two days later.

The deal will create the UK’s second largest telecoms operator by revenue – after BT – with domestic revenue of £6.97bn based on last year’s combined results.

CWW has had a turbulent time since its demerger in 2010, thrashing its way through three chief executives and a handful of profit warnings in a year. But the telecoms group will bring to Vodafone a large roster of blue-chip clients and a strong fixed-line network, alleviating some of the pressure from increasing data demand.