Vodafone sold its 49 per cent stake in Vodafone Fiji to the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) for FJD160 million (£51 million) in cash.
Vodafone’s exit means the mobile operator is now fully locally-owned. The remaining 51 per cent stake in Vodafone Fiji is held by Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH). ATH consolidates and manages the Fiji government’s investment in the telecoms sector
FNPF, which holds a 58 per cent stake in ATH, now has a combined direct and indirect ownership of 79 per cent in the mobile operator.
FNPF chief executive Aisake Taito, in a statement quoted by local press, said the move would diversify the fund’s investment portfolio.
“The purchase will allow FNPF members to directly realise the benefits from [Vodafone Fiji’s] strong financial performance through a higher dividend share,” he said.
Although the mobile operator is now entirely Fiji-owned, Vodafone, in a brief statement, said the UK-headquartered group expected to continue its presence in Fiji through a “partner market” agreement.
FNPF, for its part, said this would mean using the Vodafone brand and some of the group’s proprietary services.
Vodafone has had a long presence in Fiji – the Vodafone Fiji network went live in July 1994.
According to figures from GSMA Intelligence, Vodafone Fiji had 745,000 connections at the end of Q1 2014, well ahead of Digicel, its only network rival, with 230,000 connections.
Fiji has a SIM-card penetration of over 110 per cent but the market is relatively under-developed. 3G penetration is around 15 per cent.