Verizon cagey on phones, open about global ambitions
In a wide-ranging interview with Charlie Rose earlier this week, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg danced around questions about cellphones but was more forthcoming about the U.S. telecom giant’s long-term expansion ambitions.
Asked to confirm a report that Verizon will sell an Android-based phone from Motorola this year Seidenberg said, “It might be true what you said. I can’t quite disclose…”
And as for any plans to sell iPhone, the executive said that would be Apple’s decision.
Seidenberg was more comfortable talking about his dreams of global expansion and seemed to hint that the company would aim for an overseas acquisition in wireless.
“We want at some point a global retail play in wireless,” said the executive, whose wireless unit is 45 percent owned by U.K. based international service provider Vodafone. Verizon has long said that it would like to buy out Vodafone’s stake in Verizon Wireless, a move that Soleil analyst Michael Nelson said would likely be its first acquisition priority.
Instead of asking how Verizon might expand overseas, Rose questioned the executive about whether he would consider buying Sprint. But Seidenberg said Verizon is already big enough in the United States.
“Sprint is U.S based and we’re thinking global. I don’t know that that would make a lot of sense. We’re thinking differently, and bigger,” he said, suggesting that the “home run” would be to have global communications companies with the same kind of scale as companies like Fedex.
However this dream will likely take time and Seidenberg noted that the bulk of his company’s growth should come from internal projects. Around half to two thirds of growth will come organically with only about a third coming from acquisitions, he said. The executive noted that Verizon had grown from a small New York utility to become a major U.S. company. “In the next 10 years we may figure out how to go past that,” he said.
(Reuters photo of Ivan Seidenberg in July 2008)