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Vodafone mulls $100bn Verizon stake sale - now about that $10bn tax bill...

US giant is back to sniff around Brits' tasty meat

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Vodafone is back in talks with Verizon about selling its 45 per cent stake of Verizon Wireless, US's biggest mobile network operator.

Today Voda "confirmed press speculation" that negotiations on selling out are back on. But it won't comment on the Wall Street Journal's claim that Verizon has come up with a way for Voda to reduce a massive tax bill it faces as a result of the sale - and that they both need to get the job done before US interest rates make it impractical.

Verizon would have to pay between $100bn and $130bn to buy Vodafone's stake in the Verizon Wireless joint venture, and to do that it will have to borrow at least $50bn (depending on the deal it can strike). The cost of that borrowing will depend on prevailing interest rates, which look likely to rise and that may have pushed Verizon back to the table.

Vodafone, meanwhile, seems quite happy to get shot of its American operation, and could use the cash to expand across Europe. Voda needs cash to acquire competitors and build some 4G networks, but it doesn't want the $10bn (£6.4bn) tax bill a Verizon deal could incur so has hitherto been cold to US advances.

If Verizon really has a tax-slashing offer on the table, and is ready to borrow the cash to fund it, then it just comes down to a game of brinkmanship over the value of that 45 per cent - $100bn or $130bn (£64bn or £83bn), depending on who you ask. ®

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