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After months of speculation, Verizon announced today that it has bought out British telco Vodafone’s stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion in cash and stock.
Vodafone previously owned 45 percent of Verizon Wireless, a joint venture that the two companies formed back in 1999 (when Verizon was known as Bell Atlantic). The deal was approved by the boards of both companies, but it still needs the approval of shareholders and regulators. It’s expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.
And yes, it’s a whopper — the arrangement is now the third-largest corporate deal ever.
“This transaction will enhance value across platforms and allow Verizon to operate more efficiently, so we can continue to focus on producing more seamless and integrated products and solutions for our customers,” said Lowell McAdam, chairman and CEO of Verizon, in a statement today. “We believe full ownership will provide increased opportunities in the enterprise and consumer wireline markets.”
Now that it has full control of Verizon Wireless, the carrier has the freedom to explore things like entirely new businesses and innovative new subscription plans. With T-Mobile shaking things up with its new contract-free plans, Verizon may be eying some new ideas of its own.
Verizon will pay Vodafone $58.9 billion in cash, $60.2 billion in common stock, and $5 billion in notes. Additionally, Verizon will sell off its stake in the Vodafone Omnitel venture for $3.5 billion, and it will make up the remaining $2.5 in other ways.
The deal follows some other major moves in the U.S. wireless arena: T-Mobile just purchased MetroPCS for $1.5 billion (after a proposed AT&T merger fell through), Sprint sold 78 percent of itself to Japan’s SoftBank for $21.6 billion, and AT&T agreed to purchase Leap Wireless for $1.1 billion.