Verizon Wireless Vodafone
Verizon Wireless is the US\'s biggest mobile phone network and was the product of a joint venture between Vodafone and Verizon Communications (Reuters)

Verizon Communications confirmed a $130bn deal with UK mobile phone giant Vodafone to acquire its 45% stake in the pair's profitable US joint venture, Verizon Wireless.

The deal, which is the third largest in history, was unanimously supported by both firms' boards . It will comprise a $58.9bn (£38.6bn, €45.4bn) cash payment, $60.2bn of common Verizon stock to be distributed to Vodafone's shareholders, as well as $10bn in smaller transactions.

A final hurdle, but likely a low one, will be the approval of both firms' shareholders. Regulators will also need to rubber stamp the deal.

"Verizon Wireless is the greatest wireless company in the world, and a big part of this success was due to the hard work of both partners, Vodafone and Verizon," said Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and chief executive.

"The timing was right to execute a transaction that benefits both companies and their shareholders.

"Today's announcement is a major milestone for Verizon, and we look forward to having full ownership of the industry leader in network performance, profitability and cash flow."

Vodafone and Verizon entered into the joint venture in 2000. Since then, Verizon Wireless, the US's largest mobile phone network, hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. In 2012 alone, Verizon Wireless reported $75.9bn in operating revenue.

"This transaction allows both Vodafone and Verizon to execute on their long-term strategic objectives," said Vittorio Colao, Vodafone Group chief executive.

"Our two companies have had a long and successful partnership and have grown Verizon Wireless into a market leader with great momentum. We wish Lowell and the Verizon team continuing success over the years ahead."

Verizon wants full control over Verizon Wireless following continued growth in the firm's subscriber-base.

It added 941,000 new customers at the end of the second quarter, improving on the 720,000 additions it announced for the first three months of 2013. It garnered a record 2.1 million subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2012 and generates a significant earnings margin of more than 41%.

One anonymous top-ten investor in the UK business told Reuters that $130bn was a "good price" and that management would be "treated as heroes" if they got it.

Cash-rich Vodafone may be the target of an acquisition attempt by telecommunications giant AT&T, which is reportedly interested in the firm's European wireless business.