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Big Vodafone Stock Sale

March 23, 2000|Bloomberg News

Vodafone AirTouch's biggest shareholder, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., sold a third of its stake in the British mobile phone company for about $5 billion, said bankers who arranged the sale. Hong Kong-based Hutchison sold 925 million shares, or about 1.7% of Vodafone, to institutional investors, said bankers at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Deutsche Bank. That was 7.7% less than Vodafone's close. Hutchison, headed by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, obtained a 5.2% stake in the world's largest mobile phone company when Vodafone bought Mannesmann, in which it owned shares. Hutchison, whose investments range from ports to supermarkets, is likely to find ready takers if it sells more Vodafone shares to raise cash for expansion, analysts said. "The possibility of more Hutchison sales" is strong, because of the need by "fund managers around the globe to increase their weighting in Vodafone shares," said James Clunie, who helps manage about $1.5 billion in global equities for Murray Johnston Ltd. in Glasgow, Scotland. Vodafone's American depositary receipts closed off $1.94 at $58.69 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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