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Vodafone hires German industrialist as it prepares for IPO

written by Bella Palmer

Vodafone is assembling an independent board for Vantage Towers as it prepares for its giant flotation

Vodafone has hired a big German industrialist to chair its huge international phone masts division ahead of its stock market flotation planned for next year in an IPO that could value it at e20 billion.

Rudiger Grube, former boss of the German rail giant Deutsche Bahn and ex-chairman of Airbus was hired to head Vantage Towers' supervisory board "in preparation for its IPO in early 2021", Vodafone said.

The business is expected to float on the Frankfurt exchange, leading to Vodafone shareholders getting back billions of euros of value for the business, which owns 68,000 towers across nine countries.

Grube had a long career at Daimler before becoming chief executive of Deutsche Bahn.

Vodafone cited his experience in running capital intensive infrastructure projects as well as service-based industries.

It also said he had strong political and business connections in Europe and was used to dealing with companies with varying stakeholder interests to manage.

Vodafone is assembling an independent board for Vantage Towers as it prepares the ground for its giant flotation.

The company's shares have underperformed for years and the flotation is hoped to reinvigorate the price.

Vantage's team are expected to be urging fund managers to invest in the IPO to capture profits from future growth from 5G rollout as big telecoms operators use its masts to put up their infrastructure. They are also expected to pitch it more generally as an investment play in the growth of data usage.

Vantage Towers chief executive Vivek Badrinath said: I look forward to working with [Grube] and the wider supervisory board to drive our strategy to enable Europe's digital transformation and to benefit from the attractive long-term trends delivering growth and value opportunities across each of our markets.

Grube said he looked forward to "delivering a successful IPO".

Vodafone chose Frankfurt over London for the float during the summer. It was seen as a blow for the London Stock Exchange but Vodafone chief executive Nick Read said the decision had been made because the lion's share of the masts were in Germany so it would attract more investors there.

Vodafone hired long-term Heineken chief executive Jean-Francois Van Boxmeer as its group chairman in May.


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