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Reasons to watch
- Future growth in customers using faster data plans
- Strong dividend payout
- Potential for new acquisitions to bolster offering
Vodafone’s name is traced back to 1982 when the largest maker of military radio technology in the UK, Racal, began a joint venture with another firm, Millicom, called ‘Racal Vodafone’.
Vodafone was demerged from Racal in 1991 and began its expansion into mobile telecoms. It acquired Talkland and then bought out store chain Peoples Phone in order to take control over both the network and the sale of phones.
Its real expansion began when, having gained 35% of German firm Mannesmann, it made an unsolicited bid for the company in 1999. Mannesmann had purchased Vodafone’s UK rival Orange, breaking a perceived agreement not to compete on each other’s home ground. Eventually Mannesmann agreed to the deal, worth £112 billion, then the largest ever corporate merger.
It continued to buy up firms, including Cable & Wireless Worldwide in 2012, and then Spain’s largest cable operator, ONO, in 2014. The sale of its stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications was also a major event, netting Vodafone around $130 billion.