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Verizon, Vodafone mull Verizon Wireless options: report

A sign of Verizon Wireless is seen at its store in Westminster, Colorado April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A sign of Verizon Wireless is seen at its store in Westminster, Colorado April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

(Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc has weighed several options involving its relationship with Vodafone Group Plc and its joint ownership of Verizon Wireless ranging from ending its wireless venture with the European company to a full merger with Vodafone, Bloomberg reported.

The U.S. and UK mobile-phone operators discussed a full combination as recently as December, according to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the situation.

The talks stalled over issues of leadership and location of a new company, making a buyout or partial sale of Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless more likely, the sources said.

Verizon Communications holds a 55 percent stake in Verizon Wireless. Vodafone owns the rest.

Vodafone, Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless declined to comment.

Verizon wants to control Verizon Wireless fully because it is its most profitable division, Bloomberg reported, citing the sources.

Vodafone has embarked on a program to sell assets it did not control, aiming to streamline its portfolio and return cash to shareholders who felt the company's share price did not reflect the sum of its many individual assets.

The report said no formal discussions of a merger were currently being held and "deliberations over the sale of Vodafone's Verizon Wireless stake haven't progressed to substantial negotiations". Talks on both are likely to restart this year, according to Bloomberg's sources.

(Writing by Jennifer Saba; Editing by Carol Bishopric and Dale Hudson)

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