NEW YORK -- Venezuela's telephone company, Compania Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela (CANTV), said its shares today began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the form of American Depository Shares (ADSs) valued at $786.6 million. They trade under the symbol VNT. CANTV is the only Venezuelan company currently listed on the Exchange.
The 34.2 million ADSs, initially priced at $23.00, each represents seven shares of Class D CANTV stock. An additional 73 million shares of class D CANTV stock are being sold in Venezuela. All of the shares are being sold by the government of Venezuela.
In comments delivered to New York Stock Exchange Chairman and CEO Richard A. Grasso, CANTV President Gustavo Roosen said, "The significance of selling CANTV's shares on the international and Venezuelan markets goes far beyond today's event. It is a clear sign, both in this country and abroad, that the government of Venezuela is committed to the reforms that will further propel our economy and encourage both domestic and international investment."
CANTV was privatized in 1991 through the sale of 40 percent of the company and operating control to VenWorld, a consortium that is 51 percent owned by GTE. The government of Venezuela continued to hold 49 percent of the shares, with the remaining 11 percent held by, or for the benefit of, the employees of the company. The shares sold by the government represent up to 348 million of the government's 490 million shares, assuming all of the options are exercised. This represents 32.5 percent of the total shares outstanding.
Since 1991, when GTE assumed operating control of the company, CANTV has increased the number of lines in service from 1.6 million to 2.6 million, modernized its network, increased employee productivity, consolidated operations, strengthened management controls and improved network planning and design. The percentage of lines in service that are digital has increased from 15 percent in 1991 to 58 percent in 1996. In addition, the company has put into service the first segments of a high- capacity broadband fiber-optic network, which it expects to complete in 1999.
The ADSs will be quoted on the SEAQ International and the Class D shares will be traded on the Caracas and Maracaibo exchanges as well as the Electronic Stock Exchange in Venezuela. Citibank is the depository agent. Lehman Brothers and SBC Warburg are the joint global coordinators.
ATTENTION EDITORS: VIDEO footage of the listing on the Floor of the Exchange, as well as an interview with the Chief Financial Officer of CANTV, Andres Gluski, will be fed from 2:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. (ET) and can be accessed through Telstar 401, Transponder 19; NR Loop #102362 and Waterfront #1630. PHOTOS will be provided to Associated Press, New York City. Additional photos can be obtained by requests to the New York Stock Exchange.