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Vodafone to return $84 billion to investors after Verizon deal

LONDON (Reuters) - Vodafone said its shareholders would receive about $84 billion (54 billion pounds) in cash and shares after the company completes the sale of its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications for $130 billion.

Under the agreement announced on Monday, the third-largest deal in corporate history, Verizon will take full control of the largest mobile operator in the U.S. by paying Vodafone $58.9 billion in cash, $60.2 billion in Verizon stock and an additional $11 billion from smaller transactions.

All the stock will go to shareholders, plus $23.9 billion in cash, after the deal is finalised, likely to be in the first quarter of 2014.

Vodafone also said it would plough 6 billion pounds ($9.3 billion) into improving its mobile and broadband networks across its footprint over the next three financial years. It said the investment programme dubbed Project Spring would help it boost growth to underpin its increasing dividend payments to shareholders.

It will have a U.S. tax liability of around $5 billion.

While Vodafone will lose its best asset, it will get a war chest it will use to reward shareholders and bolster its European operations, which are under pressure from recession and tough regulation.

"We are pleased that our long and successful partnership with Verizon will yield a significant return of value to our shareholders, rewarding them for their continuing support of Vodafone's investment strategy," Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said.

"We wish Lowell and the Verizon team continuing success over the years ahead."

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Leila Abboud and Will Waterman)