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C&W Worldwide Secures Extension Deadline For Vodafone

By Lilly Vitorovich Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Cable & Wireless Worldwide PLC (CW.LN) said Thursday that the U.K. Takeover Panel has agreed for a third time to extend the deadline by which Vodafone Group PLC (VOD) had to submit a takeover offer for the U.K. telecommunications operator or walk away, a day after Tata Communications Ltd. (TCL) abandoned its takeover efforts. Just 25 minutes before the deadline was set to expire Thursday at 1600 GMT, C&W Worldwide confirmed the extension had been granted by the U.K. takeover panel--which regulates merger and acquisition activity among publicly traded U.K. companies--until April 23 at 1100 GMT. In a brief statement, C&W Worldwide said that "advanced discussions with Vodafone are on-going with a view to establishing whether or not they might result in a formal offer for the company" that the board would be willing to recommend. But it stressed that "there can be no certainty that any offer will be made, nor as to the terms of any offer." A C&W Worldwide spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement. A spokesman for Vodafone, the world's biggest mobile operator by revenue, declined to comment. C&W Worldwide owns the U.K.'s biggest fiber network dedicated to businesses. It also has an international cable network that reaches across Europe, India and throughout Asia. But it has had a tough time since its spinoff from parent Cable & Wireless PLC in 2010, suffering a sliding stock price and several management changes. After the close of trade in London on Wednesday, Tata Communications of India said it won't make an offer for C&W Worldwide after failing to agree on a price. The disappointing news pushed C&W World's shares down as much as 24% during Thursday's trade on the London bourse. C&W Worldwide shares Thursday closed 3 pence lower, or 8.2%, at 34 pence, valuing the company at GBP934 million. Vodafone shares closed 2 pence higher, or 1.4%, at 172 pence, valuing the operator at GBP85.42 billion. Vodafone on Feb. 13 confirmed it was in the very early stages of evaluating a takeover bid for C&W Worldwide--which counts U.K.-based telecommunications operator BT Group PLC (BT.A.LN) as one of its biggest rivals--following press speculation. A few weeks later, Tata Communications said it too was mulling a bid for the company. For Vodafone, the acquisition would support margins and improve network quality in the U.K. It would also support the global enterprise business, in which Vodafone is currently investing, according to brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein. - By Lilly Vitorovich, Dow Jones Newswires; 44-0-207 842 9290; lilly.vitorovich@dowjones.com

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