Vodafone shareholders voted for one of the biggest payouts ever as
71 percent of the deal's net proceeds — or $84 billion including
stock — will be returned to Vodafone shareholders from the sale of
Vodafone's 45 percent interest in Verizon Wireless to majority owner
"This is the largest single return of value to shareholders in
history," Vodafone Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee told the shareholders
at a meeting in London.
He said it left Vodafone in a strong financial position and
represented "the opening of an important new chapter in the history
Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and CEO, said the purchase will give
Verizon more financial flexibility to invest in new technologies.
"This is critical because we believe that, when it comes to wireless
growth, we are just getting started," McAdam said in a statement.
With Vodafone selling one of its largest divisions and the biggest
U.S. wireless service, speculation has mounted that the British firm
could itself become a bid target.
AT&T <T.N>, the second largest U.S. mobile operator, on Monday ruled
out a bid for Vodafone after being forced to make its intentions
clear by Britain's takeover panel but bankers and analysts say it
may still make a bid in the future.
When asked by an investor about AT&T's reported interest in buying
Vodafone, Kleisterlee said: "I read the newspapers as you do, and I
cannot comment on the speculation around Vodafone and AT&T at this
point of time."
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Holders of 99.76 percent of Vodafone's shares backed the Verizon
Wireless sale, which is expected to conclude on February 21, with
the share consolidation and return of value taking place three days
In a preliminary count, about 97 percent of Verizon votes cast were
in favor of the proposal, according to the company.
Under the terms of their deal announced in September, Vodafone is to
get $58.9 billion in cash, $60.2 billion in Verizon stock, and an
additional $11 billion from smaller transactions.
Verizon needed shareholder approval to issue up to 1.28 billion
shares to Vodafone shareholders to proceed with the deal.
At its special meeting on Tuesday shareholders also gave Verizon the
go-ahead to increase the number of shares issued by an additional 2
billion. This was not a condition for the Verizon Wireless deal, but
will allow for additional stock to support Verizon's growth and
provide flexibility, the company said.
Verizon shares were down one cent at $47.68 on the New York Stock
Exchange after the news. Vodafone shares closed roughly flat at
223.44 pence in London.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle, Kate Holton
and Sinead Carew; editing by Neil Maidment, Tom Pfeiffer and Phil
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