VODAFONE will not be pressured into selling its stake in US-based Verizon Wireless.
Senior players at Vodafone are said to be incensed that its majority partner Verizon Communications has continued to block attempts to reinstate a dividend, despite the firm being close to paying down its £12.1bn debt pile. They believe Verizon is attempting to force Vodafone into selling its 45 per cent share, leaving Verizon Communications as the only stakeholder.
A source close to the Vodafone board told City A.M. the firm will not cave in. He said: “Verizon Communications would love to get the chance to snap up Vodafone’s holding. But they won’t force us out – they can try to pressurise us but we will not blink first.”
It is understood no decision will be reached until Verizon Wireless’ debt – much of which relates to the takeover of Alltel – is paid down, likely to be towards the end of 2011.
Vodafone has not drawn a dividend from the JV since taking out £923m in 2005, leading chief executive Vittorio Colao to describe the situation as the “defining challenge” of his stint at the helm.