Vodafone won't sell stake in Verizon Wireless

Vodafone Group attempted to draw a line under speculation about the future of its US operations, saying it has no plans to sell its stake in Verizon Wireless, according to an Associated Press report.

The Associated Press report said Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone company, had 'decided not to exercise its rights' to sell the stake to Verizon Communications, which owns the remaining 55% of the company.

'Verizon Wireless is a market-leading business with strong growth prospects and the board of Vodafone continues to believe that retaining its full 45% interest is in the best interests of shareholders,' a company statement quoted by the Associated Press report said.

Analysts estimate that Vodafone's holding in Verizon Wireless, which has 52 million customers in the US, is worth between $45 billion and $55 billion, the report said.

Activist investor group Efficient Capital Structures had called on Vodafone to spin off, or issue a tracking stock for, Vodafone's stake in the US mobile operator, hugely increasing the company's debt to return more cash to investors.

ECS suggested that ditching Verizon would leave Vodafone better placed for growth in Europe and Asia as markets become more competitive and pressure grows to generate extra revenues from each customer.

However, shareholders voted overwhelmingly against those plans when Vodafone put it to a vote at its annual general meeting last month the report said.