Vodafone keeps its slice of Verizon

Vodafone reiterated on Wednesday that it is, under no circumstances, about to get rid of its stake in US cellco Verizon Wireless.

Despite months, maybe even years, of speculation that the operator would offload some or all of the 45 per cent holding, a statement released Wednesday said that “Vodafone continues to believe that retaining its full 45 per cent interest is in the best interests of shareholders”.

This was the fifth and final option Vodafone had to exercise rights under its agreement with Verizon Communications, which owns the remaining 55 per cent of Verizon Wireless, to sell up to $10bn of the stake back to Verizon’s parent.

Last month, rebel shareholders in Vodafone were repelled, when proposals to spin off the holding in Verizon Wireless were defeated by a landslide of votes.

At the company’s AGM, 33.4 billion votes were cast against plans to separate out the company’s 45 per cent interest in Verizon Wireless, with only 1.6 billion cast in favour of the move.

CEO Arun Sarin said that the value of the Verizon stake had increased from $10bn to $15bn in 2006 and would continue to increase. He said that the operator is looking at ways to maximise the value of the holding for shareholders and hinted that the holding would be in a position to pay dividends from 2009.

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