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Verizon Wireless postpones IPO

The largest mobile phone operator in the United States says it will delay its initial public offering, citing volatility in the stock market.

Verizon Wireless, the largest mobile phone operator in the United States, said on Monday that it would delay its planned initial public offering.

The joint venture, formed by the merger of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Airtouch's U.S. wireless properties, filed to go public in August to raise an estimated $5 billion. No date was set, but the company was expected to go to market in November.

With wireless stocks sliding like the rest of the telecommunications industry, the companies have now decided to put their plans on hold.

"Verizon Communications, Vodafone and Verizon Wireless have agreed that...recent volatility of capital markets has created an environment in which it is prudent to defer the offering," the companies said in a statement.

Most daunting to the company likely has been the performance of AT&T Wireless, which went public in April with only lukewarm gains. The AT&T unit's share prices have since dropped a third of their value.

Other wireless high-flyers such as Sprint PCS and Nextel Communications also have plummeted from their highs in recent months.

The delay could have the most effect on the companies' ability to buy new spectrum in upcoming government auctions, which it had hoped to use for high-speed wireless services.

Analysts said the company likely would still bid on the spectrum but would finance any purchases with debt rather than returns from the public offering.

Earlier this month, the company said it boosted its customer base by 806,000 new subscribers in the last quarter, giving it 26.3 million total subscribers.