Vodafone opts not to sell Verizon Wireless stake

US carrier Verizon Communications said cellular partner Vodafone Group had opted not to sell its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless for at least the next few years, according to an Associated Press report.

But even if Verizon would not need tens of billions to fund a cellular buyout, it planned to proceed with a spin-off of its phone book business, the report also said.

The updates on the two major financial question marks for Verizon, one of the US' two dominant telcos, came as the company reported a 24% drop in second-quarter profit despite yet another powerful showing by the cellular business.

The steady, strong growth of the wireless operation, where second-quarter revenue improved 18% to $9.26 billion, had been a double-edged sword dangling over Verizon's stock price, the report said.

The report said full ownership of Verizon Wireless' profit would help fund a hugely expensive upgrade of Verizon's traditional phone network with fiber-optic lines.

But as the cellular business prospered, its market value had soared, fueling worries that Verizon might be forced to take on too much debt to buy the Vodafone stake, now estimated to be worth well above $40 billion, the report further said.

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