Vodafone has confirmed it is in talks over a deal that will see it exit the United States through one of the largest corporate transactions of all time.
Shares in the mobile phone giant jumped 9% after it said it was in discussions with US partner, Verizon Communications, over a sale of its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless, which is America's largest mobile phone operator.
It is thought that Verizon wants to pay around 100 billion US dollars (£64.4 billion) for t he stake, although reports have said that Vodafone is pressing for as much as 130 billion US dollars (£83.8 billion). This compares with AOL's record 164 billion US dollar (£105 billion) takeover of Time Warner in 2001.
Vodafone has a market worth of just under £100 billion, which means the bulk of its value is locked up in a business where it has no day-to-day control.
The Newbury-based company is likely to use the proceeds from any sale on major acquisitions or a return of cash to shareholders.
It said today: "Vodafone notes the recent press speculation and confirms that it is in discussions with Verizon Communications regarding the possible disposal of Vodafone's US group whose principal asset is its 45% interest in Verizon Wireless.
"There is no certainty that an agreement will be reached."
Recent reports said a full merger of the two companies had been considered but broke down in December because of disagreements over leadership a nd the location of new headquarters.
Today's confirmation of talks over the 45% stake comes a month after Vodafone announced a £9.1 billion deal for Kabel Deutschland to boost its position in the key market of Germany.
The addition of Kabel Deutschland's 8.5 million connected households leaves Vodafone with around 32.4 million mobile, five million broadband and 7.6 million direct TV customers in the country.
Operators are increasingly attracted to the ''quad play'' business model, in which customers are able to subscribe to a package including TV, internet, landline and mobile services.
The company has 19.2 million mobile customers in the UK, where its sales have been under pressure due to tougher competition and cash-strapped customers cutting back on mobile use.
As well as returning cash to shareholders and building a war chest for acquisitions, analysts expect the proceeds from any Verizon sale to be used to pay down debt.