Vodafone's shares soared in early London trading following reports that Verizon Communications is potentially seeking full control over the companies' wireless partnership in the United States in a deal that could be worth more than $100bn.
According to unnamed sources cited by Bloomberg, Verizon discussed a range of options in potentially ending its joint venture with Vodafone called Verizon Wireless, which includes acquiring the UK group's 45 percent stake for $115bn.
Vodafone's stock soared more than 6 percent in early trading Wednesday to change hands at 179.25p - the highest level in at least five months. Verizon shares advanced 1.2 percent in New York Tuesday to close at $47.69 following the news.
The same sources say in December last year, Vodafone and Verizon discussed a full merger of the two companies, but negotiations broke down over disagreements on the combined company's leadership and headquarters location, which eventually led to the buyout or partial sale of Vodafone's stake in the Verizon Wireless a more likely outcome.
While a full merger had been discussed, investors have eyed the potential deal with caution as Brussels officials, such as EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, expressed concerns about competitiveness.
However, the two companies are tipped to restart discussions shortly.
The $115bn stake sale would lead to a significant cash pile reserve for Vodafone which has a current market value of around $125bn.
Currently, Vodafone only receives a special dividend from Verizon for its stake in their joint venture but does not have control over the company so unlocking the 45 percent stake could mean a major cash injection for the group.
Verizon is also eager acquire full control over the joint venture as Verizon Wireless added a record 2.1m subscribers last quarter and generates a significant earnings margin of more than 41 percent, add the sources.
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