Vodafone was established in 1984 as a subsidiary of Racal Electronics as the Racal Telecom. In October 1988, 20% of the capital of Racal Telecom was floated. Racal Telecom became an independent company in September 1991 and took the name of Vodafone Group.
Following its merger with AirTouch Communications for $ 62 billion in January 1999, the company was renamed Vodafone AirTouch, June 29, 1999. Vodafone was obliged to discard 17.2% of E-Plus by competition authorities as Vodafone acquired the same time 35% of Mannesmann. On 21 September, Vodafone agreed to merge its operations in the United States with Bell Atlantic to create Verizon Wireless. The group took name Vodafone Group, July 28, 2000.
In 2000, Vodafone acquired German Mannesmann for € 181.4 billion. With Mannesmann, Vodafone, already a leader in the UK (before British Telecom), becomes number 1 in Germany (Mannesmann D2 before Deutsche Telekom), and number 2 in Italy (Omnitel behind TIM Telecom Italia) and Spain (65% Airtel behind Telefonica). By cons, for reasons of competition, Vodafone was forced to sell Orange, the British subsidiary of Mannesmann, number 3 in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria. France Telecom bought Orange for 50 billion euros in 2000. The action of Vodafone is listed on stock exchanges in London and Frankfurt since the acquisition of the German Mannesmann.
In 2001, Vodafone acquired Eircell, the mobile arm of Telecom Éireann, for 2.45 billion pounds. Eircell was quickly renamed as Vodafone Ireland.
In 2003, Vodafone acquired the No. 3 Japanese J-Phone. Vodafone was trying to become the leader in the Japan mobile multimedia market.
But this market has remained in the hands of its main competitors NTT DoCoMo (first operator in Japan) and KDDI (number 2). In March 2006, after seeing sales fall by 5 % since 2004 and its market share decline, the Company decided to sell its Japanese subsidiary renamed Vodafone KK to Softbank for € 12.7 billion.
February 11, 2007, Vodafone announced the acquisition of 67 % stake in Hutchison Essar, the fourth Indian operator, with the group in Hong Kong Hutchison Whampoa. The Indian Essar Group held the remaining 33%. The transaction was valued at $ 11.1 billion. Hutchison Essar Vodafone Essar was then renamed.
In 2009, Vodafone was the second largest operator behind China Mobile (Vodafone, however, in terms of revenues, was the largest). The group operates in 27 countries. In France, it held 43.9 % stake in the operator SFR.
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