Doubts over Vodafone offer for Verizon

City analysts raised fresh doubts about whether Vodafone will sell its 45 per cent stake in the US mobile phone operator Verizon Wireless, even as talk of a possible offer grew yesterday.

Reports from America claimed Verizon, the 55 per cent owner of Verizon Wireless, has appointed banking and legal advisers in an apparent sign that it wants to increase the pressure on the UK mobile giant to sell.

Verizon is said to be considering a bid worth $100bn (£65bn), and could discuss the move at a board meeting next week.

"Verizon has lost patience with Vodafone's desire for a full merger and unwillingness to sell its stake and is now trying to take the discussion semi-public," the investment bank Bernstein said.

However, analysts said valuation and tax remained major obstacles for Vodafone, which reportedly wants nearer $135bn. Vodafone also fears a major tax liability, even though those close to Verizon have suggested it could structure the deal to minimise it. Vodafone's tax bill below $5bn.