FCC OKs Verizon buyout of Vodafone's company stake

In the third largest corporate acquisition in history, Verizon will purchase Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion and achieve 100 percent ownership of the network.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
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A Verizon Wireless store in Arlington, Texas. Verizon Wireless

It's confirmed -- the Federal Communications Commission has given approval to Verizon's $130 billion buyout of Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless. This makes the deal the third largest corporate acquisition ever and will give Verizon full ownership of Verizon Wireless.

"We thank the FCC for its quick action in approving our transaction with Vodafone, which will provide Verizon with 100 percent ownership of Verizon Wireless and a boost to one of the most important sectors of the US economy," Randal Milch, Verizon's executive vice president of public policy, said in a statement Wednesday.

"Full ownership of Verizon Wireless strengthens our ability to provide an outstanding consumer experience with advanced mobile devices, first-in-our-class network quality and reliability, and new products and services that leverage and integrate our global communications technologies," he continued.

Verizon has for years sought to buy out Vodafone's 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless, which is the No. 1 wireless provider in the US and the fastest-growing and most profitable part of Verizon. The deal took longer than expected because the two companies were said to have a hard time agreeing on a price. Earlier this year, it was reported that Verizon was hoping to pay $100 billion, while Vodafone wanted $130 billion.

The deal, which was announced in September, is the third largest corporate acquisition ever, behind Vodafone's $183 billion deal for Mannesmann AG in 1999 and AOL's $164 billion deal for Time Warner the next year. Under the terms of the deal, Verizon will pay $60.2 billion in stock and $58.9 billion in cash for Vodafone's 45 percent share.

The FCC made its decision to grant the buyout under new rules that make foreign investment in US wireless networks easier. The goal of the government agency was to reduce red tape and streamline international investment.

"This application approval also marks the first use of the streamlined foreign-ownership review procedures that the FCC adopted earlier this year, and we are grateful to the commission for its commitment to process reforms that benefit wireless carriers and the customers we serve," Milch said.

The deal still remains subject to customary closing conditions, such as approval from both companies' shareholders. The purchase is expected to close in the beginning of 2014.