Vodafone may have $30 bln-$40 bln acquisition capacity -CEO

NEW YORK Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:39pm EST

NEW YORK Feb 10 (Reuters) - Vodafone Group Plc could have the capacity to spend $30 billion to $40 billion on acquisitions in coming years and no deal should be too big if it makes strategic sense, Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said on Monday.

Colao told reporters he was exploring possibilities for big acquisitions on top of investments in Vodafone's existing business after a $130 billion windfall it will get from an asset sale to Verizon Communications later this month.

"We are looking at acquisitions that are sizeable and could transform the company," said the executive at a media roundtable in New York where he laid out his strategy for the world's second-largest mobile operator.

"The theory is that if an acquisition makes sense you should not be worried by the size because shareholders should approve it," he added.

Vodafone may have $40 billion spending money after returning most of the Verizon deal proceeds to shareholders and investing $30 billion in its network over roughly two years if the company sticks to its target for a ratio of two to one for debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, he said.

While the executive was careful not to name any acquisition targets he said Vodafone is keen to build up its fixed-line assets in Europe, its enterprise business around the world and its mobile business in emerging markets.

He said that Vodafone has a roughly 16 to 17 percent share of the total telecommunications market and that it could conceivably increase this to a range of 20 to 23 percent.

Vodafone is selling its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile service, to Verizon, which already owns 55 percent of that company and controls the asset.