Vodafone has sold its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to US telecoms group Verizon Communications, as the mobile network operator refocuses on faster mobile broadband services in a new ‘Project Spring’ initiative.
The deal ends a long-running saga, with both Vodafone and Verizon trying to take full control of Verizon Wireless over the years, but having been unable to agree a price.
The new $130bn (£84bn) deal, one of the biggest in corporate history, will see Vodafone return £54bn to its shareholders, of which £22bn will go to shareholders in the UK.
Vodafone will also invest money in its business, with funds earmarked for high speed mobile phone networks.
It said that by 2017 its main five European markets would have almost complete 4G coverage.
The company is launching a £6bn investment plan called Project Spring, which will accelerate the introduction of 4G networks and increase investment in laying fibre optic cables, among other things.
The investments would allow the company to offer much faster broadband services to customers.
Project Spring will also add to Vodafone’s high street stores and develop mobile payment services.
Vodafone says that as the US business is owned by a Dutch holding company, it will not be liable for tax. However, it will pay $5bn in tax in the United States.
Vodafone shares rose 3.4% during the day.