Vodafone shareholders oppose moves to spin off Verizon

Vodafone Group shareholders voted against plans by a rebel investor group to overhaul the company by spinning off its majority stake in US-based Verizon Wireless and massively increasing its debt, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said shareholders overwhelmingly supported Vodafone's management, with more than 93% of proxy voters against a recommendation by activist investor group Efficient Capital Structures' calls to spin off, or issue a tracking stock for, Vodafone's 45% stake in the US mobile operator.

Almost 95% of proxy voters, which make up the vast majority of Vodafone's institutional investors, were also against Efficient Capital's call for the issuance of new listed bonds to shareholders, the report said.

The votes at Vodafone's annual meeting scuppered Efficient Capital's plan to load up the company with an extra 34 billion pounds ($70.2 billion) in debt to return more cash to investors, the report added.

Vodafone chairman John Bond criticized the 'extraordinary' level of debt which the company would have to take on under the bond issue, which would increase its interest payments by around 2 billion pounds ($4.1 billion) and limit the board's flexibility, the report said.

Company CEO Arun Sarin also praised Verizon Wireless's double-digit growth and indicated the company had no plans to end its involvement, the report further said.