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UPDATE 1-Vodafone CEO sees Verizon merger unlikely

* A split-up or a dividend more likely than merger

* Verizon, Vodafone shares a bit higher

NEW YORK, Sept 22 (Reuters) - A merger between Vodafone Group Plc VOD.L and Verizon Communications Inc VZ.N would be less likely than other alternatives for the parents of Verizon Wireless, the chief executive of Vodafone said on Wednesday.

Vodafone owns a 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless, which is controlled by its majority parent Verizon Communications; but because Vodafone does not receive a dividend from the venture, the British operator has been under pressure from shareholders to find an alternative.

Some analysts have speculated that Verizon and Vodafone could merge to resolve the situation.

But Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said at a Goldman Sachs conference that, while he would keep an open mind, such a merger would probably be too complex compared with options such as a complete split with Verizon or a Verizon Wireless dividend payment to both its parents.

“Theoretically, conceptually, it’s an option, but practically it’s less likely than the other two,” Colao told the audience.

In early New York Stock Exchange trade, Verizon shares were up 0.3 percent to $32.43. In London, Vodafone shares were up 0.3 percent to 163.45 pence. (Reporting by Sinead Carew, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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