Verizon, Vodafone mulling options for Verizon Wireless- report

March 5 Tue Mar 5, 2013 2:51pm EST

March 5 (Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc has weighed several options involving its relationship with Vodafone Group Plc and its joint ownership of Verizon Wireless ranging from ending its wireless venture with the European company, to a full merger between the two companies, according to a Bloomberg report.

The U.S. and U.K. mobile-phone operators discussed a full combination as recently as December, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

The talks stalled over issues of leadership and location of a new company, making a buyout or partial sale of Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless more likely, the sources said.

Verizon Communications holds a 55 percent stake in Verizon Wireless. Vodafone owns the rest.

Vodafone declined to comment. Representatives for Verizon Wireless and Verizon Communications did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Verizon wants to fully control Verizon Wireless because it is its most profitable division, Bloomberg reported, citing its sources.

Vodafone has embarked on a program to sell assets it did not control, aiming to streamline its portfolio and return cash to shareholders who felt the company's share price did not reflect the sum of its many individual assets.

The report said that no formal discussions of a merger were currently being held and "deliberations over the sale of Vodafone's Verizon Wireless stake haven't progressed to substantial negotiations." Talks on both are likely to restart again this year, according to Bloomberg's sources.

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