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Vodafone Australia's plan gets nod from parent companies

Vodafone has reportedly picked up AU$2 billion in funding from its parent companies to get the troubled telco back on track.
Written by AAP , Contributor and  Josh Taylor, Contributor

Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) looks set to remain on the local scene for a while yet, after shareholders approved Chief Executive Bill Morrow's 2013 business plan for boosting the telco's network performance.

A spokeswoman for VHA said on Tuesday that its two shareholders, Hutchison Telecommunications Australia and Vodafone Group PLC, had backed Morrow's 2013 strategic plan and agreed to provide the necessary funding for the struggling telco.

"Our plan has been approved and obviously, along with that, is financial support from our shareholders in order to deliver our plans," the spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

"Nothing speaks louder than the financial backing of our shareholders regarding their commitment to Vodafone Australia."

The spokeswoman would not confirm an Australian Financial Review report on Tuesday, which said the two owners had given the green light to a AU$2 billion funding program designed to pay down debt and continue with network upgrades. The Australian newspaper also reported that the company had received AU$2 billion this morning.

VHA's accounts showed that the company had 6.8 million customers at June 30, 2012, compared with 7.5 million at December 31, 2010, as customers left in droves due to network problems at the telco.

Reports from Vodafone said that between June and September this year, Vodafone had shed another 154,000 customers, and the company was now reporting a customer base of 1 million fewer customers than its high in 2010.

The exodus of customers and financial losses had prompted some to suggest that Vodafone would exit the market in Australia.

But the company has moved to reduce its costs, slashing its workforce by 10 percent and looking to reduce operational costs through mobile tower infrastructure sharing agreements with Optus.

At the same time, the company has been rolling out a multi-billion dollar overhaul of its 3G network, as it prepares to launch 4G services in 2013.

"Our focus is on our network, we have made some good progress, but a lot more work needs to be done so our network experience for customers is consistent," the spokeswoman said.

ASX-listed Hutchison Telecommunications closed steady at 3 cents.

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