Verizon Reclaims U.S. Wireless Stake for $130b

NEW YORK (AP) -

Verizon will own its wireless business outright after agreeing Monday to pay $130 billion for the 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless owned by British cellphone carrier Vodafone.

The buyout, the second-largest acquisition deal on record, would give Vodafone PLC additional cash to pursue its expansion ambitions in Europe. Those ambitions include its push to buy up other cellphone providers and to expand into the lucrative world of mobile services.

The British company said its shareholders would get $84 billion of the deal’s net proceeds — including all of the Verizon shares included in the deal and $23.9 billion in cash.

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said the sale will mean a “very substantial return to shareholders and to the investments relied upon by savers and pensioners.”

“This transaction has the beauty that it allows both to reward shareholders for their support and strengthen the company for future long-term rewards to shareholders,” he said.

The deal would give Verizon Communications Inc. an opportunity to boost its quarterly earnings, as it would no longer have to share a portion of proceeds from the nation’s No. 1 wireless carrier with Vodafone. It expects its earnings per share will rise by 10 percent once the deal closes. It also boosted its quarterly dividend by almost 3 percent. The deal still requires approval by regulators and shareholders of both companies. It is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.

Under terms of the deal, Verizon will pay $58.9 million in cash and $60.2 billion in stock. It will also issue $5 billion in senior notes payable to Vodafone and sell its 23.1 percent minority stake in Vodafone Omnitel NV to Vodafone for $3.5 billion. The remaining $2.5 billion will be paid in other ways.

It isn’t expected to have much of an effect on Verizon consumers or on the company’s operations. Vodafone had little influence on Verizon Wireless’ day-to-day operations, and the two companies have kept out of each other’s territory.