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Vodafone has declined to comment on weekend press reports that it is flogging its 45 per cent stake in US cellco Verizon Wireless.

The Observer reports that US telco Verizon Communications is prepared to pay around $48bn to take overall control of the joint venture. Slap on around $8bn of debt and the total price is expected to be somewhere around $56bn.

One unnamed institutional source told the paper: "Verizon are going to buy out Vodafone...There is only one buyer and I suspect that a deal will be cut sooner rather than later."

If the sale goes ahead, shareholders say they want a chunk of the cash - although it could also prove useful if Vodafone goes ahead with plans to invest in fixed line services such as broadband.®

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