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Verizon denies talk of bid with AT&T for Vodafone

Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Verizon Communications Inc. has denied a report that it's looking to partner with AT&T Inc. to buy Vodafone Group PLC, the British cellphone company that owns 45 percent of Verizon's wireless business.

Verizon owns the 55 percent of Verizon Wireless that Vodafone doesn't own and has been openly interested for years in buying out Vodafone. But tax and pricing issues have gotten in the way.

According to the Financial Times, Verizon is now looking at joining AT&T for a bid. Verizon would get Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless, while AT&T would take over the rest of Vodafone, the newspaper said on its blog. Vodafone has widespread international interests, with operations in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and India, among other countries.

The newspaper cited "usually reliable people" that it did not further identify.

In a statement Tuesday, Verizon said it's still interested in buying out Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless.

"It does not, however, currently have any intention to merge with or make an offer for Vodafone, whether alone or in conjunction with others," Verizon said.

AT&T had no comment. There has been speculation previously that AT&T is interested in international expansion, but few signals from the executives that this is the case. Cross-border deals in telecommunications have few benefits.

U.S.-listed Vodafone shares fell $1.21, or 4 percent, to $28.20 after Verizon's denial. In regular trading, the FT's report boosted the shares by 3.8 percent.