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Vodafone Would Consider Offer for Verizon Wireless Stake

Vodafone Group Plc Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee said, “If we see proposals that generate more value for shareholders we will consider them.” Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Vodafone Group Plc Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee said, “If we see proposals that generate more value for shareholders we will consider them.” Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Vodafone Group Plc Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee told shareholders the company would consider an offer for its stake in Verizon Wireless, which partner Verizon Communications Inc. has said it’s interested in buying.

Vodafone, the second-largest wireless carrier, has no update on the situation, Kleisterlee said today at the Newbury, England-based company’s annual shareholder meeting.

“There is ongoing communication,” Kleisterlee said. “Everyone on the board, at every board meeting gets an update on where we are.”

Verizon Communications has said it’s interested in buying out its partner’s 45 percent holding, which analysts have said may be valued at $120 billion or more. Vodafone said that while it’s happy with the way the asset is performing, it would consider offers. Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile-phone company, reported last week 941,000 new mobile customers added in the second quarter and 7.5 percent sales growth to $20 billion.

“If we see proposals that generate more value for shareholders we will consider them,” Kleisterlee said.

Bob Varettoni, a spokesman for New York-based Verizon Communications, declined to comment on Kleisterlee’s remarks.

Vodafone rose 0.3 percent to 194.65 pence in London trading at 3:08 p.m. The shares had gained 26 percent this year through yesterday.

Verizon told analysts earlier this year that $100 billion is a fair price for Vodafone’s 45 percent stake, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

Vodafone Chief Financial Officer Andy Halford, who said he was a “happy holder” of the asset in May, said today the company’s strategy for its U.S. business hasn’t changed.

“The discussions we have are about the business primarily, and the business continues to do perfectly well,” Halford said of the board’s talks. “Over the years both sides have had conversations about buying the other one out. It ebbs and flows.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Amy Thomson in London at athomson6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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