US telecom regulator FCC has approved Verizon's planned $130 billion (€95 billion) buyout of Vodafone's 45% stake in mobile joint venture Verizon Wireless.
The deal still requires shareholder approval from both Verizon and Vodafone, but should approvals be granted the deal is now on track to close during the first quarter of 2014.
The FCC specifically approved the transfer of certain telecom licenses, as well as a petition from Verizon covering foreign ownership, submitted in case foreign control of Verizon Wireless exceeds 25% after the deal closes.
In a statement, the FCC said it had been able to expedite approval under reforms made to the review process for transactions involving international investments in US telecom infrastructure.
“This is an excellent example of the type of process reform the FCC is seeking to accomplish,” FCC International Bureau Chief Mindel De La Torre said. “In this instance, the International Bureau was able to expeditiously grant the declaratory ruling by public notice after completing its public interest review.”
After years of rumors that Verizon Wireless' days as a Verizon-Vodafone JV are numbered, the two companies officially reached a takeover deal in September.
If the deal closes, it will be the second largest corporate transaction in history, after Vodafone's $172 billion acquisition of German conglomerate Mannesmann AG in 2000.