Vantage Towers shares rise after Elliott takes 5.6% stake

By Scott Kanowsky -- Frankfurt-listed shares in Vantage Towers AG (ETR:VTWRn) touched a record high on Tuesday after activist hedge fund Elliott Management disclosed that it had taken a 5.61% stake in the Germany-based phone masts business.

The news comes after Vodafone Group PLC (LON:VOD) transferred its 82% stake in Vantage last year to a joint venture formed with two infrastructure investment groups - KKR and Global Infrastructure Partners - and backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund.

Elliott's stake in Vantage, one of the biggest telecoms mast businesses in Europe, has raised speculation that the consortium may need to further raise its bid to fulfill its goal of snapping up the remaining 18% of Vantage shares it does not already own.

The consortium has previously offered to buy out minority shareholders at a price of €32 (€1 = $1.08) a share, representing a 19% premium to the average three-month price of Vantage shares in November.

Analysts at Credit Suisse noted that it will now be more difficult for the Vodafone-led joint venture to reach the 95% threshold dictated by German law that would allow it to force an automatic "squeeze-out" of minority shareholders.

The result is "somewhat expected, but still disappointing for Vodafone," the Credit Suisse analysts added. Shares in the U.K. telecoms group were slightly lower in late afternoon European trading.

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