US telecoms giant Verizon Communications has denied that it wants to table an offer for UK mobile phone group Vodafone. The move follows a Financial Times (FT) report that suggested Verizon could make a joint move for Vodafone with fellow US giant AT&T Inc. However, Bloomberg quotes Verizon as saying that it does not ‘currently have any intention to merge with or make an offer for Vodafone’. Despite this, the US firm did reiterate that it remains interested in buying out Vodafone’s 45% stake in their Verizon Wireless joint venture.
Earlier this week the FT’s ‘Alphaville’ blog reported that US rivals Verizon and AT&T had enlisted British bank Barclays to put together a break-up bid for the UK group. Citing ‘usually reliable people’, the FT said that the potential deal would see Verizon Communications acquiring Vodafone’s Verizon Wireless stake, with AT&T buying Vodafone’s non-US assets. The total deal was said to value Vodafone at USD245 billion.
Speculation over the future of Vodafone’s Verizon stake has been mounting for months, with neither partner believed to be totally comfortable with the current situation. Verizon is known to be keen to take full control of the unit, achieving a greater influence over its most profitable division, but it is thought that Vodafone would be loath to lose its grip on the money-spinning unit in light of the pressures faced in its European markets. The two sides discussed a full combination as recently as December, anonymous sources confirmed last month, but those talks faltered over disagreements on leadership and the location of the new headquarters, making a buyout or partial sale of Vodafone’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless a far likelier outcome.