Vodafone exits US as deal to offload stake in Verizon Wireless closes

Vodafone has completed the sale of its 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications for $130 billion (78.3 billion). The two companies were partners in the joint venture.

While the deal will see a significant amount of the cash returned to shareholders, it could allow Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao to expand the business further into Europe.

"Our long and successful partnership with Verizon over the last 14 years has created a great deal of value for our shareholders," said Colao.

"We are returning around US$85 billion to shareholders, which is the largest single return to shareholders in history. The transactions leave Vodafone in a strong financial situation and well positioned to execute its strategy."

Proceeds from the third largest deal in corporate history, announced last September, will also give it the funds to pay off debts. It also adds to the mobile telco's multi-billion pound warchest to fund expansion into high-speed wireless and broadband services over the next few years.

As part of the deal, Vodafone now has control of its Italian subsidiary Vodafone Italy, after Verizon agreed to return its 23 per cent stake in the business.

UK shareholders could re-invest money from the deal into other UK equities, sparking an increase in the FTSE. Its new, smaller size also now makes it a target for takeovers. Both Bank of America and Merrill Lynch speculated the mobile operator could be bought by AT&T, according to reports from the Evening Standard.

Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and chief executive, said the move would provide the firm "with opportunities for greater financial flexibility, enhanced operational efficiency and innovations that will benefit customers. We are confident it will fuel further growth in our business."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.