Vodafone Group Plc. has explored making an offer to buy Verizon Communications, its partner in Verizon Wireless, the Wall St. Journal reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources close to Vodafone.
The Journal said the plan, which has been explored at least theoretically, would likely necessitate a hostile takeover of Verizon that would require Vodafone to shell out at least $150 billion.
Such a deal — dubbed by some as the "Big Bang theory," the Journal said — may lead to Vodafone keeping Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile provider, and spinning off the remainder of Verizon, which provides traditional telephone services, or selling its wireline assets.
A Vodafone spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the report. Vodafone shares were flat at 135.7 pence in early London trade.
The story follows Vodafone's reiteration on Monday that it "continues to monitor developments in the U.S. market" and is weighing a bid for U.S. provider AT&T Wireless Services Inc., which put itself up for sale last month. AT&T Wireless has set a Feb. 13 deadline for bids for the company.
Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone provider, owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless. If it bought AT&T Wireless it would need to extricate itself from its venture with Verizon Communications.
Verizon's chief executive recently indicated that the company could be interested in buying Vodafone's share of Verizon Wireless.