Vodafone Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee said his company's board would seriously consider a proposal from Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) to buy Vodafone's 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless if the deal gave Vodafone shareholders more value than they derive now from the partnership.
Kleisterlee said at the company's annual shareholder meeting that there was nothing new to announce about the companies' relationship. "If we see proposals that generate more value for shareholders we will consider them," he told investors, according to Reuters. "There is ongoing communication (that involves) the full board. Both executives and non-executives are involved in those negotiations with Verizon."
Rumors swirled earlier this spring that Verizon would consider a $100 billion bid for Vodafone's stake, which Vodafone has reportedly dismissed as inadequate. Verizon and Vodafone have not commented on the reports, but Verizon executives have made clear that the company is interested in acquiring Vodafone's stake. Verizon Wireless recently paid a $7 billion dividend to the parent companies.
Verizon Wireless has been a bright spot on Vodafone's balance sheet, which has been weakened by poor performances in its core European markets, especially in Southern Europe. Last week Verizon Wireless reported that total wireless revenue clocked in at $20 billion for the second quarter, up 7.5 percent year-over-year. The carrier also added 941,000 postpaid customers during the period.
"There is absolutely nothing that has changed (regarding a sale)" Vodafone CFO Andy Halford told reporters after the meeting. "The discussions we have (with Verizon) are about the business primarily, and the business continues to do very, very well."
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