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Vodafone denies need to sell stake in US Verizon venture

British mobile operator Vodafone said it did not need to sell part of its stake in its highly profitable Verizon Wireless joint venture in the United States to bolster its business in Europe.

Chief executive Vittorio Colao said Vodafone had a healthy balance sheet and could invest when it needed to, adding it could step up its range of services without having to make acquisitions.

Mr Colao said: "The two things are not totally linked.

"If it is right to make some investments, we will make some investments."

Facing falling revenue in core European markets, Vodafone has come under pressure to cut its 45% stake in Verizon to fund the purchase of fixed-line assets to increase its product range.

Vodafone has hired Goldman Sachs to advise on a possible €10 billion (£8.7bn) bid for German cable operator Kabel Deutschland, a source said.

It has been linked with deals in Spain to consolidate a market hit hard by the economic downturn, with consumers cutting back on making calls and sending texts.

Vodafone has also been struggling in Italy where Mr Colao, an Italian, said he had seen consumer confidence fall further because of political uncertainty.

Sector bankers and analysts said Vodafone needs to acquire fixed assets to fight off challenges from low-cost mobile players and telecoms and cable rivals.

Buying its own fixed assets, such as local cable operators or alternative telecoms providers, would help Vodafone cut fees paid for fixed access.

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