S&P considers VOD's balance sheet to be a strong one. Low PE and high dividend and growing values of its properties, led by the increasing value, earnings and dividends from it 45% interest in Verizon Wireless, the #1 US carrier.
That would be silly. Interest rates are at all time lows. They should refinance and sell debt at these rates. If the deal happens they should take the money and see if there are cheap assets that they can put money into somewhere in the world. Or failing that buy back stock and shrink the number of shares. And finally increase the dividend. Of course, they could have enough money to do all three.