Vodafone shares up as Verizon eyes buyout of US joint venture

SHARES in Vodafone rose as much as 2.7 per cent yesterday on suggestions the company could reap a £50bn windfall from the sale of its stake in its US joint venture, Verizon Wireless (VZW).

The jump comes after the chief executive of Verizon Communications, which owns 55 per cent of VZW to Vodafone’s 45 per cent, said he wanted to buy out the remainder.

“We have always said we would love to own all of that asset. I think [a deal] is feasible,” Lowell McAdam told the Wall Street Journal.

VZW has become a successful venture for Vodafone, paying out multi-billion pound dividends in the last two years. However, it has also been a source of instability, with shareholders uncertain about the likelihood of a payout.

An immediate deal, which one analyst pegged at more than £50bn, is thought unlikely, with Vodafone unwilling to sell and Verizon Communications short of the backing needed to lodge a bid.

Shares in the FTSE 100 company rose to a high of 164.74p before finishing up 3p at 162.74p. Neither firm opted to comment yesterday.