Vodafone CEO Aims Keep 45% Percent Stake in Verizon Wireless

Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) aims to keep its 45 percent stake in U.S. operator Verizon Wireless and will talk to its partner at the end of the year about getting a dividend from the venture, Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao told German magazine Capital.

Colao currently sees “no reason to divest this excellent company,” he was quoted as saying.

The publication interviewed Colao before AT&T Inc. (T) said on March 20 that it agreed to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG in a deal valued at about $39 billion. The acquisition would allow AT&T, the second-largest U.S. wireless operator, to surpass Verizon Wireless as the biggest in the country. A Vodafone spokesman confirmed Colao’s comments today.

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), which owns the rest of mobile- phone operator Verizon Wireless, said in January it may pay a “fair dividend” to Vodafone. It would be the first payment from their venture since 2005 as the U.S. operator withheld the dividend to focus on paying down debt. Vodafone will probably discuss the matter with Verizon at the end of the year, Colao told Capital.

Vodafone wants to grow in emerging markets, where its units have an average growth of 10 percent compared with no growth in Europe, according to the magazine. The Vodafone CEO was quoted as saying that prices for emerging market assets are “much too high.” The company decided against buying several African operators which were then acquired by rivals, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Browning in London at jbrowning9@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net

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