Vodacom agrees R17.5 bln black economic empowerment deal

JOHANNESBURG - Mobile phone company Vodacom said on Monday it had entered into a agreement of up to R17.5 billion with its existing black economic empowerment (BEE) partners and a newly formed staff scheme that would see the BEE partners exchange their current shareholding in Vodacom South Africa for a shareholding of between 5.8 percent and 6.25 percent in Vodacom Group.

"Vodacom Group has agreed terms with Royal Bafokeng Holdings, Thebe Investment Corporation, YeboYethu (existing BEE partners) and a newly formed staff scheme, whose combined interests will be consolidated into a new YeboYethu BEE structure that will own shares in Vodacom Group," it said.

Vodacom, a subsidiary of British firm Vodafone, is the largest mobile network operator in South Africa with significant operations in Lesotho, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Kenya, through Safaricom.

It said the transaction, which was subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, would be the largest ever broad-based BEE transaction in the telecommunication industry and would replace and build on a R7.5 billion BEE ownership scheme that was concluded in 2008 and is due to unwind on October 8.

The existing transaction, comprising a 6.25 percent shareholding in Vodacom SA, has benefitted over 102,000 YeboYethu investors and

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