3 Potential Scenarios for Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ): Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (VOD)

More than a decade ago, a partnership between Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) formed Verizon Wireless, now the dominant cell phone company in the U.S. The partnership has paid huge dividends to both companies (literally), but it may be time for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) to take over the entire business to unlock its true value.

Verizon Communications

Yesterday, Verizon’s stock shot higher on speculation it would do just that, somehow buying out Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD)’s stake or maybe the entire company. This has been discussed for years but with Vodafone’s European business struggling and a strong balance sheet at Verizon Wireless, now may be the time. Here are three possibilities for Verizon Wireless.

Buy all of Verizon Wireless
If Verizon wants to buy all of Verizon Wireless, Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) holds all of the cards. It can sit on the asset and collect dividends rather than selling out at a low price. Citigroup analyst Michael Rollins recently estimated that Verizon Wireless is worth $236 billion to $303 billion, making Vodafone’s stake worth $106 billion to $136 billion. That’s a steep price for Verizon but it may be worthwhile.

Rollins suggests the possibility of up to $80 billion of debt issuance to make the deal happen and at today’s rates this wouldn’t come with an unreasonable interest payment.

For Vodafone, getting nearly your entire market cap in cash comes with a big tax bill but it also opens up many options. The company could continue to expand its network in emerging markets or return a large sum of the money to shareholders. Either way, the stock would likely rise if Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) has to pay a premium for the company.

The possibility of a merger has grown as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) have grown closer to each other in value. You can see that market capitalizations are nearly identical and enterprise values are very close. This makes a 50-50 merger reasonable simple from a value standpoint.

Verizon Vodafone
Market Cap $139.3 billion $137.4 billion
Net Debt $45 billion $35.2 billion
Enterprise Value $184.3 billion $172.6 billion

Operationally, this would be a huge expansion in the globalization of telecom. Vodafone has operations across Europe and in Australia, Egypt, and India. Combine that with a dominant position in the U.S. and you would have a global juggernaut.

If AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) have fallen behind because of Verizon Wireless’ larger infrastructure, just imagine if the company had a global reach. A decade from now your phone could work around the world with little effort and it may be less costly than the exhorbinant costs companies charge internationally today.