Vodafone eyeing $135bn sale of Verizon Wireless stake

Vodafone eyeing $135bn sale of Verizon Wireless stake

Vodafone is set to sell its 45 per cent stake in its joint venture with US network provider Verizon, according to the latest reports.

The British firm has been in discussion for a while about the sale of its share in the Verizon Wireless venture, with the options ranging from a merger of the two telecoms giants to a partial sale.

However, Vodafone is thought to be keen on a sale of its entire share, in a bid to facilitate a complete break from the US, according to the Sunday Times.

Analysts believe that the windfall from the deal would be used by Vodafone to invest in its European business, which has been facing tough conditions in recent months and years.

The newspaper reported that the talks were "understood" to have been "fluid and free-form".

Sources close to the deal believe the sale of the shares could be done by early summer, netting Vodafone $135 billion (£88 billion) in the process.

Should the deal go ahead it would be one of the largest corporate transactions of all time, falling just short of the $164 billion takeover of Time Warner by AOL back in 2001, but it does represent the most lucrative deal overseas by a British company, surpassing BP's windfall from its Russian venture.

Verizon Wireless is expected to make a $34 billion profit this year and it is thought to be worth up to $300 billion.

Until very recently a merger between the two telecoms giants was thought to be the only solution to their complex relationship, but after talks the deal was blocked by the US firm.

Issues between the two concerned where they would have their main headquarters and the structure of the management and leadership positions.

So far both Verizon and Vodafone have declined to comment on the prospective deal, but chief executive of Vodafone, Vittorio Colao, has been exiting stakes in businesses where he does not have control, such as SFR in France, in the recent past, so there could be some truth in the speculation.