[January 24, 2006]

Vodafone global strategy questioned by large investor

(FT Investor (Pulses) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Standard Life Investments on Monday night became the first big investor in Vodafone, the UKs fifth largest company by market value, to criticise publicly the telecom groups global strategy. The fund management group, Vodafones 9th largest shareholder, is pressing the telecom company to sell off its 45 per cent holding in Verizon Wireless, the fast-growing US network operator. The US company is estimated to be worth up to GBP25bn. David Cummings, head of UK equities at Standard Life Investments, on Monday said: We are very supportive of a sale of Verizon. It would give a massive earnings uplift and there is a willing buyer in Verizon. He said Vodafone could then focus on its European and Asian businesses. The share price is showing that the market has lost confidence in the companys global strategy, rating it more like a utility company, he added. Mr Cummings statement reflects growing investor concern about Vodafones performance. The shares have fallen 12 per cent in the past year to 121p, and 22 per cent since last years high of 155p in August.


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