Vodafone's U.S. strategy comes under the spotlight

While Vodafone smoothly announced its latest KPIs--and very good they looked as well--the company's well-oiled PR machine was unable to staunch awkward questions regarding its U.S. JV, Verizon, and its expensive involvement in the 700MHz spectrum auctions.

Verizon's decision to compete directly with Google for spectrum has worried some investors as to when the U.S. company might resume dividend payouts. Vodafone has come under increasing pressure from its major investors for Verizon to switch from paying down its debt and return money to shareholders. However, Vodafone's CEO, Arun Sarin, claimed to be very relaxed about Verizon's involvement in the spectrum auction and its actions were anticipated. "Obviously we knew about the auction a couple of years ago so there is nothing unusual going on here," he said.

Sarin also claimed to be comfortable with its shareholding in the French operator, SFR, despite SFR's owner, Vivendi, calling for Vodafone to sell its stake. "Frankly it's a very good business, it's a good partnership, it produces good dividends," he concluded.

For more on this story:
- read The Times and Ovum