Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Vodafone and Verizon Communications (Reuters)
British mobile phone giant Vodafone said it is in "advanced discussions" with US telecommunications firm Verizon Communications over the sale of its stake the pair's joint venture, Verizon Wireless, in a deal worth $130bn.
Under the proposed deal, Vodafone would receive a mixture of Verizon common stock and cash for its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless.
Reuters, citing anonymous sources close to the discussions, reported that this would split into $60bn (£38.6bn, €45.4bn) stock, $60bn cash, and a further $10bn in smaller transactions.
"There is no certainty that an agreement will be reached. A further announcement will be made as soon as practicable," said Vodafone's short statement about the talks.
Verizon Wireless, the largest mobile phone operator in the US, was formed when Vodafone and Verizon entered a joint venture in 2000 to allow the two to tap into the lucrative American mobile network market.
A mooted deal between Vodafone and Verizon has seen the former's share price soar to new highs in recent months. Because Vodafone only owns 45% of Verizon Wireless, it does not hold overall control of the business, but it receives dividend payments from the venture.
Verizon wants full control over Verizon Wireless following continued growth in the firm's subscriber-base.
It added 941,000 new customers at the end of the second quarter, improving on the 720,000 additions it announced for the first three months of 2013. It garnered a record 2.1 million subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2012 and generates a significant earnings margin of more than 41%.
Any deal between Vodafone and Verizon would be subject to approval by the boards of directors.
One anonymous top-ten investor in the UK business told Reuters that $130bn was a "good price" and that management would be "treated as heroes" if they got it.
"It has been worth the wait. Previously it wasn't generating a lot of cash and it wasn't paying dividends to the parent company and the relationship between the managers was a poor one," said Richard Dunbar, investment director at Scottish Widows, to BBC News.
"Recently it has been better - and the business has been performing better."
Any sale by Vodafone would not be subject to UK tax laws because the joint venture's parent company, through which the stake is owned, is in Holland.
Before the news of an imminent deal, it was reported that US telecoms firm AT&T is looking into the possibility of acquiring Vodafone's European wireless business once any Verizon stake sale was completed.
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