Has Verizon Hired Advisors for Buyout of Verizon Wireless?

LONDON: Following reports that Verizon Communications (NYSE: V  )  has hired advisors on a bid to buy out its stake in Verizon Wireless, Vodafone (LSE: VOD  ) (NASDAQ: VOD  )  soared in trading today, pushing 200p -- a height not previously seen since December 2001.

Reuters claimed that the U.S. telecoms Goliath has hired both banking and legal advisors to act on a possible £80bn cash and stock bid for Vodafone's 45% interest in the joint venture, citing two sources "familiar with the matter." 

It is thought that Verizon is yet to put the proposal to the British telecoms company, but if true, then these actions show significant intent. If friendly discussions at a scheduled meeting next week do not proceed in the manner that the U.S. company hopes for, then aggressive measures look likely to be taken in the form of a public bid.

Last week, management at Verizon played down one of the main stumbling blocks that could prevent such a bid, namely, Vodafone incurring a huge capital gains tax bill, with chief financial officer Francis Shammo commenting: "We are extremely confident that such a transaction could be accomplished in a manner that is very tax efficient and would not result in a tax on the gain in that stake."

Vodafone's shares had previously reached an end-of-trading high of 193.20p in April, as the market appeared to have new-found hope for the stock. And, on a price-to-earnings ratio of below 12, and a consensus forecast of a 5.4% yield, well above the FTSE 100's average of around 3%-3.5%, it's not hard to see why.

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