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Vodafone to Do Whatever It Takes to Satisfy EU
Posted: 07-Feb-2000 [Source: Reuters]

[Vodafone's CED Chris Gent appears on BBC-TV in this interview.]

London -- "Vodafone Airtouch will do whatever it takes to satisfy European regulators over its plans to divest British mobile phone operator Orange Plc, Chief Executive Chris Gent said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

"European Commission officials have said the EU's antitrust watchdog will look at all competition aspects of Vodafone's 180 billion euro ($179 billion) takeover of Germany's Mannesmann.

"Asked on BBC Television's ``The Money Program'' what would be the main regulatory hurdle, Gent said it would be plans to divest Orange, which was recently acquired by Mannesmann.

"``We will take regulatory guidance on this. We will do whatever we have to make sure that is done in a way that satisfies them,'' Gent said.

"He reiterated that Vodafone planned no job losses as a result of the takeover, which finally won the approval of the German company's management on Friday.

"Vodafone has repeatedly stressed there would be no job losses as a result of the takeover.

"Asked whether the need for economies of scale would mean job cuts, Gent said economies would be achieved through improved purchasing.

"``We are now the biggest purchaser of phones and of equipment for the network for calls internationally. This is a growth industry.

"``There will not be job losses here, there will be job enhancements out of the extra capability we now have,'' he said.

"Gent is scheduled to meet Mannesmann workers' representatives this week.

"``It wasn't really hostile as a takeover in any case. We had constructive and creative proposals to make.

"``I think the shareholders saw that and we have now got to obviously reassure management and workers, which is much easier to do now that Mannesmann have endorsed these proposals,'' he said.

"Gent said that within a few months customers with new generation mobile phones would be able to connect to the Internet and keep familiar service in their own language in several European countries.

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