Verizon nears $130 billion wireless deal, to finance about $65 billion: sources

Soyoung Kim and Michelle Sierra
A sign of Verizon Wireless is seen at its store in Westminster, Colorado April 26, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

By Soyoung Kim and Michelle Sierra

(Reuters) - Verizon Communications is near a $130 billion deal to buy out the 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless it does not already own from Vodafone Group Plc and plans to raise about $65 billion to fund the purchase, people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

Boards of Verizon and Vodafone are each expected to meet this weekend to approve the proposed transaction, which could be announced on Monday, the people said.

Verizon has tapped JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to help raise the financing through a mix of bonds and bank loans, the sources said.

It plans to pay for another half of the purchase with its own stock.

The four banks are also advising Verizon, along with former Morgan Stanley banker Paul Taubman and Guggenheim Partners, the sources said.

Goldman Sachs and UBS are advising Vodafone, the sources said.

Verizon Communications and Vodafone declined to comment. Goldman Sachs declined comment as well. The other banks were not immediately available for comment.

Under the terms of the deal, Verizon Communications will buy Vodafone's U.S. holding company, Vodafone Americas, that owns the Verizon Wireless stake and some other assets, the sources said.

Verizon will then keep the Verizon Wireless stake and sell European assets back to Vodafone, in a move that is expected to reduce Vodafone's tax bill to around $5 billion, the sources said.

The deal marks the third-largest acquisition announcement in corporate history and British telecom giant Vodafone's exit from the large but mature U.S. market.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim and Michelle Sierra; additional reporting by Nicola Leske.; Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Sandra Maler)