UPDATE 1-Verizon, Vodafone to announce $130 bln US deal on Monday
NEW YORK, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Verizon Communications and Vodafone plan to announce a $130 billion deal on Monday that will give the U.S. telecom giant complete control of Verizon Wireless, subject to final board approval, people familiar with the matter said.
The announcement is expected to come after the stock market closes in London on Monday, after the board of Verizon meets earlier in the day to vote on the proposed transaction, the people said.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Vodafone would get $60 billion in cash, $60 billion in Verizon stock, and an additional $10 billion from smaller transactions that will take the total deal value to $130 billion, two of the people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
Vodafone's board was scheduled to meet on Sunday to approve the deal, the people said, but it was not clear what their decision was. Both groups declined to comment.
If the deal is concluded, it will end one of the longest-running corporate standoffs, which has at times seen both partners seek to buy out the other in times of weakness. For Verizon, it means that it no longer has to share the billions in cash generated by Verizon Wireless.
On the Vodafone side, Chief Executive Vittorio Colao will get a war chest of cash to reward shareholders and potentially carry out acquisitions to strengthen the group's European and emerging market operations.
To fund the cash portion of the deal, Verizon has lined up as much as $65 billion in financing from four banks JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Barclays Plc and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the people said. The banks have committed to the financing which is expected be split evenly among the four, two people said.
All the people asked not to be identified because the matter is not public.
An agreement over Verizon Wireless would mark the culmination of on-again, off-again discussions going as far back as 2004, when Vodafone bid for AT&T Inc's wireless business in a move that would have required it to shed its Verizon Wireless stake.
The British company lost that bid and has since held on to the Verizon Wireless stake for its exposure to the highly profitable U.S. wireless market, saying it would only sell if Verizon offered a price that was more valuable to its shareholders than the status quo.
At $130 billion, it would be the third-largest corporate deal of all time.
Talks picked up in earnest a few weeks ago, as Verizon grew concerned that its window of opportunity was closing, with interest rates due to rise and its own stock price declining.
That prompted Verizon to raise the offer price from the $100 billion it had initially floated to around $130 billion, sources have said.
A deal would add to a spate of consolidation attempts, both successful and failed, in the telecom industry over the past few years. Most recently, Japan's SoftBank Corp took control of Sprint Nextel Corp, the No. 3 U.S. wireless provider, in a $21.6 billion deal.