Vodafone considering exit from Verizon

Natalie Apostolou
21 Sep 2009

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has re-ignited market speculation that the carrier is seeking to divest its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless.

Speaking at Goldman Sachs media conference in New York, Colao confirmed that the Vodafone board is “re-looking” at its share of the biggest US cellco.

“Verizon Wireless is and has been a good investment. We are a minor investor, but very active. The board continues to re-look at the situation.”

Vodafone has not received a dividend for its stake in the US carrier since 2005 as Verizon has focused on repaying debt. Verizon’s acquisition of Alltel last year has reduced the likelihood of any shareholder return until at least 2011.

Verizon Communications, which owns 55% of the cellco, has publicly indicated that it was open to acquiring Vodafone's holding.

Colao said that the Vodafone board regularly examines at other options, but “for the time being we are here.”

In November last year Colao planted the seeds of divestment talk, declaring that that the company was “open-minded” about its position in Verizon Wireless.

Vodafone is in the midst of a $1 billion cost cutting drive and will axe 500 UK-based jobs in the next couple of months.

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