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Vodafone completes Verizon deal

Vodafone has announced the completion of one of the biggest transactions in corporate history after selling its stake in US operator Verizon Wireless in a deal which will see around £50 billion in shares and cash returned to shareholders.

The UK-based group confirmed today that the cash element being given back to investors following the transaction would be 23.9 billion US dollars (£14.3 billion), equivalent to 49 US cents (29p) per share.

It is distributing the payout as part of the proceeds from the 130 billion US dollar (£78 billion) sale of its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to its joint venture partner, Verizon.

Earlier this week, Vodafone announced the distribution of the share element of the investor return, with each Vodafone share entitling them to receive 0.026 Verizon shares, estimated to be equivalent to around £35.1 billion in total.

The shares will be awarded next week and the cash on March 4. Amounts of cash received by those due to take it in sterling or euro will vary depending on the exchange rate in the market.

Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao said: "Our long and successful partnership with Verizon over the last 14 years has created a great deal of value for our shareholders."

He said the amount given to investors was the largest single return to shareholders in history, adding: "The transactions leave Vodafone in a strong financial situation and well positioned to execute its strategy."

The windfall for Vodafone investors is expected to shake up the FTSE 100 Index as experts predict much of the money will be re-invested in UK stocks.

Equity trading analysts at Citi expect much of the Verizon stake to be cashed in, with between $12.5 billion (£7.5 billion) and $26 billion (£15.6 billion) re-invested in FTSE 100 stocks by active investors alone.

This will be boosted by billions more automatically ploughed back into London's top-flight share index by funds that track its performance.

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