Vodafone is to take ownership of Vizzavi, proving widespread speculation right. The UK-based operator has agreed to buy Vivendi Universal’s 50% stake in the wireless Internet company for E142.7 million in cash. The agreement will give Vodafone full ownership of the mPortal outside of France, where Vivendi will retain control.
Vodafone will continue to fund Vizzavi; so far the two owners have invested around $1 billion in the loss-making venture since its start in 2000. Vizzavi is supposed to provide Vodafone’s mobile customers with news, entertainment and Internet services through their mobile phones.
The sale will provide Vivendi Universal with much needed cash. The company has heavy debts and was close to bankruptcy earlier in the year. It has stated that the sale will save it around E171 million in 2002 and 2003. However, Vodafone is hoping that Vizzavi will break even this year.