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Verizon (VZ) is preparing to offer Vodafone (VOD) $50 billion for its stake in Verizon Wireless, according to AFX, a London news service.

Verizon and Vodafone share ownership of the nation's No. 2 wireless service, with Vodafone holding a 45% interest and Verizon controlling 55%. Verizon has been interested in acquiring control of the entire company, and AFX reports that the New York phone giant had previously dangled a $40 billion informal offer.

Speculation has

circulated for years around Verizon's plans to buy out its wireless partner Vodafone, but the two parties have never acknowledged any discussions.

A Verizon representative had no comment on the latest report.

Though the $50 billion buyout figure seems steep, investors say they like the prospect of Verizon having full claims to the fast-growing business unit.

Word of the potential offer sent Verizon shares up 38 cents to $33.12 and Vodafone up 71 cents to $22.22 in early trading Wednesday.