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Vodafone sale to open up opportunities in digital sphere, chief executive says

The sale of Vodafone's New Zealand business would open up opportunities for the brand to dive into the digital sphere, its chief executive says.

After announcing its sale to utilites investor Infratil and Canadian investment firm Brookfield Asset Management this morning, CEO Jason Paris says staff are "delighted" to have certainty and move forward with the brand.

Vodafone's British parent this morning announced the sale for $3.4 billion.

The prospect of a sale was raised on Friday, when Infratil confirmed talks were taking place and the company entered a trading halt on the New Zealand stock exchange.

Today, Mr Paris told 1 NEWS customers need not worry about the announcement, saying all its services would continue and things would run "business and usual".

"The team is very excited about this because it gives them certainty in terms of our future and also they’re delighted to find out that all of the best services that Vodafone provides our customers today will continue."

Mr Paris said he hoped the sale would allow the company to expand into the digital sphere.

"I do want to see us lift our customer service experience, especially from a digital perspective.

"I think we've got some opportunities to make some investment in network, and then I think longer term, some of these new digital services that can transform people's lives and transform their business, you'll see Vodafone bring them even faster to New Zealand than we thought was possible before."

When asked why the changes weren't previously made, Mr Paris said there were several reasons, including being "distracted" by the Commerce Commission refusal to let it merge with Sky TV in 2017.

"But we've got a very clear plan in place now," he said. "We've hit the ground running and I'm very confident that we're building momentum quite nicely to enable us to deliver even better for our customers in the future than we have in the past."

Infratil is well known for its involvement in infrastructure investments, having been involved in buying the New Zealand assets of Shell Oil in conjunction with the Superannuation Fund, which was later sold off as Z Energy.

Infratil CEO Marko Bogoievski said he expected the company to be owners of Vodafone for a long time.

"We're confident about being able to support Jason and his team, and have our own views around the way the industry evolves.

"When managed well, you can bring forward the benefits of new investments, like 5G, earlier rather than later and customers get to enjoy the benefits of that."

Vodafone NZ has about 2 million mobile customers compared to about 700 million for parent Vodafone Group.

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Jason Paris spoke to 1 NEWS after it was announced the company will be sold for $3.4 billion. Source: 1 NEWS


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