US telecom giant Verizon and Vodafone announced Monday that the British company would sell its 45 percent stake in their Verizon joint venture for $130 billion (99 billion euros).
Under the terms, Vodafone will get $58.9 billion in cash, $60.2 billion in Verizon stock, and an additional $11 billion from smaller transactions. The deal is due to close in the first quarter of next year.
The deal is also a defining event in the careers of Vittorio Colao and Lowell McAdam, the chief executives of Vodafone and Verizon.
"We think we have a balanced approach here," Colao told reporters. "We are reducing our debt level which will enable the company to be very robust and take opportunities if they arise," he said.
McAdam said the deal was a major milestone for Verizon. "We look forward to having full ownership of the industry leader in network performance, profitability and cash flow," he said.
Created in 2000, Verizon Wireless is the biggest US mobile phone company operating more than 100 million lines and employing 73,400 people.
The acquisition would be the third-largest in corporate history after Vodafone's takeover of Germany's Mannesmann mobile company for around 172 billion euros ($203 billion) in 1999, and the merger between Time Warner and AOL worth about $165 billion.
hc/ipj (Reuters, AFP, dpa)