The Deal: FCC Clears Verizon Wireless Buyout

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday made its first use of streamlined procedures for reviewing deals that involve foreign stakes in U.S. telecom companies by approving Verizon Communications'  (VZ) $130 billion cash and stock acquisition of Vodafone's (VOD) stake in Verizon Wireless.

The transaction was announced Sept. 2. Verizon is acquiring the U.S. assets of the U.K.'s Vodafone Group plc, consisting primarily of a 45% stake in Verizon Wireless.

Randal Milch, executive vice president of public policy and general counsel of Verizon, thanked the FCC for acting quickly. He said providing Verizon with 100% ownership of Verizon Wireless will provide a "boost to one of the most important sectors of the U.S. economy."

As for the streamlined foreign-ownership review procedures that the FCC adopted in April he said, "We are grateful to the commission for its commitment to process reforms that benefit wireless carriers and the customers we serve."

The FCC's changes were aimed at reducing the number of petitions for approval that are filed with the commission and the time required to review those that still must be submitted.

The changes require petitioners to identify only those foreign investors that would hold equity and/or voting interests of greater than 5%, and in some cases only those greater than 10%. Petitioners also are allowed to request specific approval for any foreign investor to increase an equity stake and/or voting interest at some future time, including to 100%.

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