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Vodafone confirms US exit negotiations with Verizon

Vodafone has confirmed that it’s on the verge of selling its stake in Verizon Wireless to its joint venture partner Verizon Communications.

The firm issued a release earlier today in the midst of mounting speculation that Verizon is ready to pay $100 billion [£64.5 billion] for Vodafone’s portion of the joint venture.

“Vodafone notes the recent press speculation and confirms that it is in discussions with Verizon Communications Inc. regarding the possible disposal of Vodafone's US group whose principal asset is its 45 per cent interest in Verizon Wireless. There is no certainty that an agreement will be reached,” read a statement from the firm.

The figures being banded around differ depending on the news source with Reuters reporting the price being attached to the stake as being closer to $130 billion [£83.8 billion], according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Vodafone’s announcement sent its share price soaring with a rise of nine per cent to a 12-year high of 207p. Verizon’s price also rose by a more modest four per cent in New York with investors and analysts confident that a deal is close.

It has been common knowledge that Vodafone has been looking for a way out of the joint venture for some time with Vittorio Colao, chief executive at the company, staking his reputation on making the sale at the correct time.

If the deal goes through it will be the third largest of all time and leave Vodafone with assets in Europe and a number of emerging markets in Africa and Asia. It also means Vodafone will be giving up part of what is regarded as the best network in the US.

"As Verizon would own 100 percent of arguably the best wireless asset in the country, in addition to a modestly improving wireline business, we believe the market should support this deal even at this lofty multiple,” Nomura analyst Adam Ilkowitz told Reuters.

It will leave Vodafone to focus on its European operations with their new UK 4G service set to take on a pivotal role after it was switched on today.