Vodafone Group Plc has confirmed that it is talks over its troubled Japanese unit Vodafone K.K.
Vodafone Group has noted today’s press speculation regarding its Japanese subsidiary, said the company in a statement. Vodafone confirms it is in discussions regarding a potential sale of a controlling interest in Vodafone Japan to SoftBank. These discussions may or may not lead to a transaction.
SoftBank is Japan’s largest internet service provider, and is one of the bidders for a new batch of cellular licenses that are expected to be auctioned off in Japan later this year. It was also awarded another mobile license last autumn. It has well-publicized intentions to take on that country’s dominant mobile carriers NTT DoCoMo Inc and KDDI Corp. Any acquisition of Vodafone Japan would allow it to offer a combination of broadband, mobile, and internet services and content.
Shares in Vodafone rose 7.62% to $21.18 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The news that Vodafone is in talks to offload the unit is a bitter disappointment for Vodafone’s CEO Arun Sarin who has been trying to turn around the fortunes of the Japanese operation for a while. Effectively, Vodafone brought into Japan as it was one of the most advanced markets in the world, but it has so far failed to fix the operation.
In January, Sarin came under pressure from some investors to offload certain overseas assets, with Vodafone Japan and Vodafone’s minority stake in the Verizon Wireless, the number-two US mobile operator, top of the list.
Vodafone and SofBank have issued no further comment other than to confirm that discussions are taking place.