WRAPUP 1-Verizon and Vodafone agree $130 bln Verizon Wireless deal

Mon Sep 2, 2013 12:59pm EDT

* Verizon to buy Vodafone's 45 pct of Verizon Wireless

* Ends decade-long stand-off between Verizon and Vodafone

* Will be third-largest deal of all time

* Vodafone to return $84 billion to shareholders

By Kate Holton and Ilaina Jonas

LONDON/NEW YORK, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Verizon Communications agreed on Monday to pay $130 billion to buy Vodafone out of its U.S. wireless business, signing history's third largest corporate deal to bring an end to a decade-long corporate stand-off.

The two firms said Vodafone would get $58.9 billion in cash, $60.2 billion in Verizon stock, and an additional $11 billion from smaller transactions that would take the total deal value to $130 billion.

The British group will return 71 percent of the net proceeds to shareholders. All the stock will go to shareholders, plus $23.9 billion in cash, after the deal is finalised, likely to be in the first quarter of 2014.

"This has been a highly productive partnership in a business with excellent momentum," Vodafone Chief Executive Vittorio Colao told reporters.

The boards of Verizon and Vodafone unanimously approved the sale.

The deal will give Verizon full access to the wireless unit's cash, handing it fresh firepower to invest in superfast mobile networks and fend off challengers in a U.S. market expected to grow more competitive in the coming years.

Verizon said it expected the transaction to be immediately accretive to earnings per share by about 10 percent, excluding any one-time adjustments.

While Vodafone will lose its best asset, it will get a war chest that it can use to reward shareholders and bolster its European operations, which are under pressure from recession and tough regulation.

The British firm said it planned to plough 6 billion pounds ($9.3 billion) into improving its mobile and broadband networks over the next three financial years. It said the investment programme dubbed Project Spring would help it boost growth to underpin its increasing dividend payments to shareholders.

It will have a U.S. tax liability of around $5 billion.

The deal is likely to be the defining event in the careers of Colao and Lowell McAdam, the congenial chief executives of Vodafone and Verizon, who rebuilt relations between the two sides to such an extent that they could complete the deal that long eluded their predecessors.

The move to sell out of the joint venture closes a heady expansionist chapter for Vodafone, one of Britain's best-known companies, which grew rapidly over the last 20 years through a spate of aggressive deals, taking its brand into more than 30 countries across Europe, Africa and India.

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