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Vodafone denies vapour Verizon bid

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Vodafone has denied rumours that it is considering a leveraged buyout of US giant Verizon.

According to sources quoted on a Financial Times blog today, Vodafone is considering a $160bn bid for the US giant. Vodafone already owns a 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless, the group's mobile network, and the larger of its two business units.

The move remains vapourware until more solid evidence emerges: the Financial Times blog notes: "Vodafone has not yet approached Verizon", and merely that "...the audacious plan has been discussed in recent weeks".

In response, Vodafone categorically denied it had any plans to acquire a controlling stake in Verizon.

The deal would create the world's largest telco, and involve loading Vodafone with a potentially crippling $90bn of debt. Verizon has some expensive gambles of its own: the company pumped $18bn into a high-speed fiber infrastructure intended to give it a viable competitor to cable.

Verizon's share price had risen by over 10 per cent before Vodafone denied the blog entry - so someone had a happy Monday.

A more likely scenario, ahead of the company's 24 July AGM, sees Vodafone cashing in on its 45 per cent share in Verizon. A group of investors led by Glenn Cooper and former Marconi boss John Mayo, calling itself Efficient Capital Structures, has succeeded in tabling a sell-off resolution for the AGM.

Vodafone attempted to buy AT&T Wireless in 2004, only to see itself outbid by Cingular. ®

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