February 24, 2014

Wheelings & Dealings: Verizon Deal with Vodafone for Verizon Wireless Comes to a Close


A couple of months ago at the beginning of December 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved Verizon’s petition to acquire Verizon Wireless from global British telecommunications company Vodafone.

At that time the terms of the deal were that Verizon would pay $130 billion and that if the deal did go through, Vodafone would distribute Verizon shares to stockholders. The request from Verizon was made to the FCC in September 2013 and was expected, at that time to be completed sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

Last week, on Friday, the transaction was completed. Not only did it come to a successful conclusion for Verizon, it does seem that everything mentioned above actually took place. The transaction that now makes Verizon Wireless a company solely owned by Verizon Communications was completed in the first quarter.

Vodafone shareholders voted yes to what can be considered one of the biggest payouts ever. Another part of the deal that did not change was the price. Verizon Wireless went for $130 billion. Of that total, 71 percent of the deal’s net proceeds will be returned to Vodafone shareholders. That percentage represents about $61 billion in stock, with the remainder in cash. This should total to $84 billion.

The breakdown from September’s agreement states that Vodafone is to get $58.9 billion in cash, $60.2 billion in Verizon stock and an additional $11 billion from smaller transactions. If you total these numbers the bottom line figure is $130.1 billion.

In a shareholders meeting in London, Gerard Kleisterlee, who is Vodafone’s chairman, said "This is the largest single return of value to shareholders in history.” He went on to say that this transaction left Vodafone in a strong financial position and according to Reuters, represented “the opening of an important new chapter in the history of Vodafone."

This does pose some interesting considerations for the future. One of the speculations is that since Vodafone sold one of its largest divisions and the biggest U.S. wireless service, does this mean that the British firm could itself become a bid target.

When asked by an investor about AT&T's reported interest in buying Vodafone, Kleisterlee said "I read the newspapers as you do, and I cannot comment on the speculation around Vodafone and AT&T at this point of time."

It seems that AT&T was interested however, it ruled out a bid for Vodafone after it was forced to make its intentions clear by Britain’s takeover panel. It seems this would not affect any future consideration that AT&T might have towards Vodafone.

After the deal was done, Verizon CEO, Lowell McAdam, sent an internal memo to the company’s employees. In the memo he said that some changes will be coming to the company as a result of the buyout.

He went on to state that these changes will "better position us to take advantage of all our capabilities to serve the customer better and create the enduring growth company that can lead the market in the years to come. Just as separate regional companies couldn't meet customers' emerging need for nationwide service in 2000 neither can we provide the integrated services customers will be seeking in the next few years by staying in our separate business units and stovepipes." 

In keeping with this feeling, McAdam also said that the purchase will give Verizon more financial flexibility to invest in new technologies. He said, "This is critical because we believe that, when it comes to wireless growth, we are just getting started."




Edited by Cassandra Tucker



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