Vodafone May Sell Its 25% In Polish Mobile Operator

(Reuters) – British telecom Vodafone (VOD.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) may sell its 25 percent stake in Polish mobile operator Polkomtel, which could spur the sale of Polkomtel shares by its Polish owners, PKN’s (PKNA.WA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) deputy CEO said on Thursday.

Asked if Vodafone would sell its stake in Polkomtel, Slawomir Jedrzejczyk, deputy head of Poland’s top oil refiner PKN, said: “From the information we have, there is a chance that the whole of Polkomtel will be up for sale.”

PKN, together with other state-controlled Polish companies KGHM (KGHM.WA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), PGE (PGEP.WA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Weglokoks, own the remaining 75 percent and have been moving forward with plans to sell their combined holding in Poland’s leading mobile operator by revenue. [ID:nLDE68815O]

“If we have Vodafone’s decision to sell, the process of selling the whole of Polkomtel could be pushed forward. We could reach out to the market in the fourth quarter and end the process in the first half of 2011,” Jedrzejczyk added.

A Vodafone spokesman in London had no comment on the matter.

Last week, Polkomtel’s chief executive told Reuters private equity groups including Apax Partners and Blackstone Group (BX.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) were interested in bidding for a controlling stake in the Polish operator. [ID:nLDE6880CI]

The Financial Times reported earlier that Apax Partners and Blackstone, TPG and CVC Capital partners were lining up bids, which are estimated at some 4 billion euros.

Earlier this month, the British operator said its stakes in Polkomtel, U.S. operator Verizon Wireless, France’s SFR and India’s Bharti would now be held separately as part of an overhaul in its portfolio, but added that this did not mean it had decided what to do with these assets. [ID:nLDE68815O]

Polkomtel, which has 13.7 million users, earned 635 million zlotys ($209.4 million) in the first half of 2010 on sales of 3.77 billion.

($1=3.033 Zloty)

By Pawel Bernat

(Writing by Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Hans Peters)