Advancing Vodafone’s strategy of shedding non-core minority assets in mature wireless markets, Polish media tycoon Zygmunt Solorz-Zak agreed to purchase Polkomtel, Poland’s second largest wireless operator, from Vodafone and its domestic Polish partners in a cash deal valued at US$5.43 billion. Boasting nearly 14 million customers nationwide, Polkomtel competes against Telekomunikacja Polska, a unit of France Telecom that ranks as Poland’s largest wireless operator, and against Deutsche Telekom’s Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa. Although Poland’s national wireless market is fully saturated, analysts indicate that the rate of smart phone ownership in Poland remains relatively low. Seizing upon this opportunity, Solorz-Zak has vowed to upgrade the Polkomtel network for fourth-generation LTE services, declaring: “I would like Poland to be one of the first countries in the world where access to the Internet and other data transmission services is possible through the most advanced technology available.” Solorz-Zak’s offer of $5.43 billion bested rival bids from private equity firm Apax Partners as well as from Telenor, Norway’s top telecom operator. Proceeds from the sale will be divided among Vodafone, the owner of a 24.39% interest in Polkomtel, and among four state-owned shareowners that hold respective stakes of 24.39%, 24.39%, 21.85% and 4.98% each. Contingent upon regulatory approval, the parties hope to complete the transaction by year’s end. Asserting that proceeds from the sale will be used to pay down debt, a Vodafone spokesman observed that the transaction “underpins Vodafone’s strategy to realize value from its non-controlled assets.”