BT, Vodafone to Increase Stake in AirTel

LONDON (06/12/2000) - Two of the U.K.'s largest telecommunications companies, British Telecommunications PLC (BT) and Vodafone AirTouch PLC signed an agreement on Monday to jointly seek additional shares in Spanish mobile operator Airtel Movil SA.

Currently, BT holds a 17.81 percent stake in the carrier, while Vodafone holds 21.7 percent. The remainder of the shares are held by Spanish companies, with the largest stake, 30.45 percent, owned by banking company Banco Santander Central Hispano SA, according to BT spokesman John Moggridge.

According to the terms of the new agreement, Vodafone can hold up to 55 percent of the carrier, while BT can hold up to 45 percent.

Airtel has over 5.6 million mobile customers in Spain and has recently introduced both fixed line telephony and Internet services as part of its plan to become a full service telecommunications company, Moggridge confirmed.

The move is in line with European expansion plans of both companies, and the two companies will jointly expand and develop the Airtel Movil, Moggridge said.

"We see it as a good deal because this agreement also helps us with BT Tel," Moggridge added.

BT and Vodafone have also signed an agreement detailing cooperation plans between Airtel and BT Tel, BT's wholly-owned subsidiary in Spain which runs a national IP (Internet Protocol) telephony network.

"BT Tel will become a service provider for Airtel and be able to sell bundled products as well," Moggridge added.

The agreement will also give Airtel customers the option to choose between mobile Internet portals offered by both Vodafone and BT.

BT, in London, can be reached at +44-20-7356-5000, or at http://www.bt.com/.

Vodafone AirTouch, in Newbury, U.K., can be reached at +44-1635-33251 or at http://www.vodafone-airtouch-plc.com/.

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