Shares of Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) rose almost 3% in London on Tuesday after reports circulated that Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is interested in acquiring the British telecommunications company’s stake in their U.S. joint venture, Verizon Wireless.
Speculation over a possible sale was stoked by Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, who was quoted in an newspaper interview saying that Verizon would “love” to own Vodafone’s 45% stake in the venture, Reuters noted.
Recently, Vodafone began divesting its holdings in joint ventures in which it is not the controlling partner, sparking investor speculation that it would ultimately seek to sell its stake in Verizon Wireless.
However, with Vodafone facing a downturn in its home markets in Europe, Verizon Wireless has been a critical profit center for the company. Some analysts said that made it unlikely that Vodafone would sell its stake in the near term.
An analyst at Espirito Santo estimated the value of Vodafone’s stake in Verizon at as much as $121 billion.
Despite the rumors, Vodafone shares fell more than 1% in afternoon trading in New York, while Verizon shares fell more than 2%.