This story started back in August when talks were in their infancy and finally progressed to an agreement back in September when Verizon and Vodafone came to terms on a deal – Verizon would buy back their 45-percent stock share from Vodafone for $130 billion. The regulators gave their approval but both Verizon and Vodafone still needed to get their shareholders' approval to seal the deal. That was finally accomplished near the end of January and the last hurdle was the expected approval of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales. If all goes well, then the final transaction is expected to close around February 21 and today Lowell McAdam, Verizon Chairman and CEO announced that the deal was final and that Verizon Wireless now owned 100-percent of itself and gave this statement in a press release:
"This is a great day for Verizon. The new Verizon now has full ownership of the U.S. wireless industry leader in network performance, profitability and cash flow. Acquiring Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless provides us with opportunities for greater financial flexibility, enhanced operational efficiency and innovations that will benefit customers. We are confident it will fuel further growth in our business."
McAdam acknowledged that over the past 14 years, Vodafone's partnership has helped make them the "largest and most profitable wireless company in the U.S." Verizon now looked forward to providing their customers with superior service and solutions and "delivering significant value to their shareholders." Notice that he did not say anything about value to their customers, just their shareholders.
McAdam made it clear that this will allow Verizon more financial flexibility to invest in new technologies and believes that when it comes to wireless growth that they are just getting started. He also indicated that they needed to respond quicker to the changing market dynamics.
Whether customers will see any reduction in monthly plan fees remain to be seen – at least Verizon can use this as the excuse for lowering prices rather than pressure from fourth place T-Mobile. Whatever it takes to get Verizon's monthly fees more inline with other carriers, we will all be grateful. Verizon may have the largest 4G LTE network, but it has been T-Mobile and AT&T that are getting all of the recent rewards.
It is a rare thing these days for an American company to actually own 100-percent of itself and kudos to Verizon for getting its Wireless division back in its own house. This is the third largest corporate acquisition ever, behind only Vodafone's $183 billion deal for Mannesmann AG in 1999 and AOL's $164 billion deal for Time-Warner in 2000.