More Talk of Verizon Bid for Vodafone

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A tie-up between Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone PLC (NASDAQ: VOD) is once more making news. A report today at the Financial Times’ Alphaville blog cites “usually reliable people” who say that Verizon is making a pitch for Vodafone at a 40% premium to the U.K. company’s current price of around 260 pence per share.

Verizon and Vodafone are 55% to 45% partners in Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscriber numbers, and Verizon has been seeking a way to take full ownership of the company while Vodafone has been seeking a way to divest itself of its joint venture holdings. Tax issues and valuation have been among the sticking points, as have corporate management and the location of Verizon Wireless’ headquarters.

Today’s talk includes AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) as a third party that would be involved in the break-up of Vodafone. According to the report, Verizon would get full control of Verizon Wireless, Vodafone would get a nice premium to its share price and AT&T would get Vodafone’s non-U.S. assets, giving the U.S.-based firm its first shot at the global market.

As envisioned, the deal would value Vodafone at $245 billion, and the deal would be the largest corporate merger ever. Regulatory issues would appear to be minimal, at least in the United States. because Verizon would not be gaining any U.S. asset it does not already control and neither would AT&T.

From a financing viewpoint, the split of Vodafone into its Verizon Wireless stake and its non-U.S. assets makes the deal a lot easier to finance by splitting the cost between Verizon and AT&T. No single firm assumes too much debt.

Shares of Vodafone are up 5.0%, at $29.76 in a 52-week range of $24.42 to $30.07.

Verizon’s shares are up fractionally, at $49.32 in a 52-week range of $36.80 to $49.59.

AT&T’s shares are up fractionally, at $37.37 in a 52-week range of $29.95 to $38.58.

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