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HomeBusinessBillionaire Xavier Niel buys 2.5% of Vodafone to 'accelerate' deals

Billionaire Xavier Niel buys 2.5% of Vodafone to ‘accelerate’ deals


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An investment vehicle backed by French billionaire Xavier Niel has bought about 2.5% of British telecommunications giant Vodafone Group, a stake currently worth £752 million.

The entrepreneur’s Atlas Investissement said in a filing on Wednesday that it saw “opportunities to accelerate both the streamlining of Vodafone’s footprint and the separation of its infrastructure assets,” as well as cut costs, improve profits and improve broadband in Germany.

It added that it supported Vodafone’s intention to merge with in-market rivals such as those in the UK and Italy, and separate out its infrastructure assets like towers and fiber.

A spokesman for Vodafone didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Atlas declined to elaborate on the structure of the holding.

Shares of Vodafone gained as much as 2.4% in London on Wednesday.

Atlas is an arm of NJJ Holding but separate to Niel’s mobile operator Iliad SA. The stake purchase is its first activity, though it is monitoring other possible investments in the communications sector, according to its website.

Niel has invested in nine European countries with Iliad, the carrier he founded, which operates in France, Italy and Poland; NJJ owns businesses in countries including Ireland, Switzerland and Monaco.

The French billionaire has been looking to expand his telecom model based on low costs and low prices. Last February, Iliad offered more than 11 billion euros ($10.9 billion) for Vodafone’s Italian unit, a bid that was quickly rejected.


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