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Sun sets in the East for BT

BT bows out of Japan, leaves Vodafone spoils

Mobile telco Vodafone looks set to snap up BT's 20 percent stake in the mobile arm of Japan Telecom, J-Phone.

The move marks BT's desperate attempts to rid itself of its £30m debt mountain, but it also marks the end of the British firm's influence in the Japanese market.

Debt-ridden BT confirmed its talks with Vodafone included the sale of both J-Phone and its 17.8 percent stake in Spain's Airtel Moviles to the mobile giant.

"We are expecting a deal to be reached this week," said a BT spokesperson.

Vodafone is steadily increasing its dominance over the Japanese markets, having already acquired 10 percent of Japan Telecom from AT&T Corp last week. On 12 April Vodafone announced the successful purchase of 15 percent of the Japanese carrier from West Japan Railway.

A purchase of BT's interests would bring Vodafone's stake in Japan from 25 to 45 percent.

"We have not yet reached an agreement with BT," said a Vodafone spokesperson. "But we do see Japan as an important sector for the telecoms industry."

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