Verizon to pay $8.5 billion dividend to its owners

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BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (AP) — Verizon Wireless said Monday that it will pay a dividend of $8.5 billion next month to its owners, Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC., by the end of the year.

It's the second dividend payment from Verizon Wireless this year. In January, Verizon Wireless ended a policy of using its cash to pay down debt, which freed up money to pay a $10 billion dividend to both owners.

Vodafone, a British cellphone company with wide international interests, owns 45 percent of the very profitable Verizon Wireless, the largest cellphone carrier in the U.S. Yet until January, Vodafone hadn't received any cash from the U.S. carrier in years.

New York-based Verizon Communications owns the other 55 percent of Verizon Wireless and controls its operations. Analysts saw its earlier strategy of debt reduction at Verizon Wireless as a way to squeeze Vodafone and persuade it to sell its stake to Verizon.

But Verizon Communications' non-wireless operations are running just above break-even, which means it needs contributions from the wireless side to pay dividends to its own shareholders.

Shares in Verizon Communications increased 22 cents to $42.78 in after-hours trading. Vodafone Group's U.S.-traded shares increased 13 cents to $26.52.

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