Aug 29 - UK telecom giant Vodafone confirms talks have begun with US company Verizon Communications over the sale of its 45 percent share in their joint venture Verizon Wireless, in a deal that could be worth $130 billion. Ivor Bennett reports.
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After years of speculation, a deal could finally be on the cards. UK telecom giant Vodafone has confirmed IT IS in talks with U.S. company Verizon Comunications over the sale of its stake in their joint venture Verizon Wireless. It could be one of the biggest deals the sector's ever seen - potentially worth up to 130 billion dollars. Joe Rundle from ETX Capital is confident it'll go through. SOUNDBITE (English) ETX CAPTIAL HEAD OF TRADING, JOE RUNDLE, SAYING: "This deal's effectively been trying to be done for about 10 years and it's the first time Vodafone has really come out and said we're on the table, negotiating. So I think they must be fairly far down the route to be able to do it so I will expect it to go ahead." Verizon Wireless is the largest mobile network in the U.S. With a 45 percent share, Vodafone's been careful to pick the right time to cash in. The value of its stake's increased as speculation of a deal's worn on. Now it's confirmed they're talking, Vodafone's shares have soared - up 9 percent to a 12-year high. Chris Hughes from Reuters Breakingviews says the company now has to deliver. SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS EMEA EDITOR, CHRIS HUGHES, SAYING: "The market is really cheered by this and clearly thinks that something's going to happen. If it doesn't happen now after all this time and after Vodafone's now confirmed it, it's going to look pretty bad." A deal is by no means done though. Analysts say the tax from the sale could prove a stumbling block, with reports suggesting a bill between 10 and 20 billion dollars. Even Vodafone itself has said there's no certainty an agreement will be reached.
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