Vodafone Portugal has closed an agreement with Lorca JVCO, the main shareholder of MásMóvil, for the purchase of its Portuguese subsidiary Cabonitel, owner of the Nowo Communications brand. Although the amount of the transaction has not transpired, sources close to the operation indicate that it would be around 150 million euros.
Nowo is the fourth largest operator in Portugal with 250,000 mobile phone customers and 140,000 fixed broadband customers, and has a network that covers nearly one million homes. “The acquisition of Nowo allows Vodafone to strengthen its competitive position in the market, and expands its coverage, in order to attract future customers,” Vodafone said in a statement, which plans to close the purchase in the first half of 2023.
Portugal had become the starting point for the incipient international expansion of MásMóvil, which attended the 5G spectrum auction held by the Portuguese regulator in 2021. However, Digi, the Romanian operator that is currently growing the most in the Spanish market thanks Due to its policy of low rates, it went to the spectrum auction, buying frequencies for around 70 million euros. In addition, Digi has closed a network agreement with Cellnex to implement 2,000 connection points. This circumstance and the fact that the business in Portugal did not enter into the merger agreement with Orange has caused the abandonment of MásMóvil from the Portuguese market, which is divided between four competitors: Meo (the former Portugal Telecom), Vodafone, NOS (controlled by Sonae and Isabel dos Santos) and Dixarobil (Digi).
MásMóvil entered Portugal in August 2019, when it bought 49.9% of Cabonitel – the holding company that controlled both Nowo and Oni – from KKR for around 15 million euros. The other 50.1% of the capital belonged to Gaea, a company made up of Basque investors, including the Ybarra Careaga family. In November 2020, MásMóvil took control of 100% of Nowo, exchanging its 50.1% to Gaea in exchange for giving it the rest of Oni, the telecommunications subsidiary for companies. Later, Gaea transferred that Oni to the Spanish group Gigas, for 40 million euros.
Divestment of La Caixa
On the other hand, CaixaBank has reduced by 1%, to 3.495%, its historical stake in Telefónica by partially liquidating a equity-swap (swap of shares agreed at a certain price between two parties), as reported In this way, CaixaBank’s stake in Telefónica is reduced to the lowest level since it notified the CNMV of its entry into the operator’s capital in 2007 The bank chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri estimates that this operation will not have a material impact on the entity’s profit and loss account or on the CET1 capital ratio. Despite the reduction in stake, CaixaBank will remain the third largest shareholder in Telefónica, after BlackRock and BBVA, both with stakes of around 5%.
In recent years, CaixaBank has subscribed to this protection for its participation in the operator, which this year generates capital gains if the share falls below four euros. Likewise, the entity has opted to collect in cash the different flexible dividends distributed by the operator. Although before the summer the titles of Telefónica reached close to five euros with accumulated increases close to 30%, the operator has not been oblivious to the fall of the Spanish (and world) stock market and is currently at annual lows. The titles closed the session this Friday at 3.38 euros per share, still far from the absolute minimum of 2.79 euros that it marked in November 2020.
While CaixaBank reduces its exposure to the company, Criteria Caixa, the investment arm of the La Caixa banking Foundation, continues to strengthen it with more than €100 million invested in the operator’s shares so far this year, raising its position to around of 2% of the capital. In the last ten days alone, the holding company has bought 3.45 million shares of Telefónica for a combined sum that exceeds 12.6 million euros invested.