Verizon is perhaps the most intimidating fish in the sea of US cellphone carriers (okay - it's more of a pond). Now the Big Red is in talks to buy Vodafone's 45% stake in the company for $130 billion, and signs suggest that this deal could be completed within a week. If this goes through, it will mark the closure of a deal Verizon has wanted to secure for years.
If you aren't familiar with Vodafone, it's a British company with roughly four times the number of subscribers that Verizon has and the largest mobile network operator outside of China. Verizon has had the ability to buy out Vodafone's stake for quite a while now, but the latter has been reluctant as such a deal would trigger a tax bill that could top $10 billion and could leave the company more subject to the whims of Europe's troubled economy - which, if you haven't been paying attention, makes the US economy look relatively charming. Still, that doesn't mean the company is too afraid to compete.
Times are changing. Rising interest rates could make it more expensive for Vodafone to stall the deal any longer. And while the company's stake in Verizon has been a valuable asset, signs show increasing competition from Sprint and T-Mobile. The success of those companies could reduce the value of Verizon's brand, at least in the eyes of shareholders. Customers have different reasons for begrudging the company, but that's a story for another day.