NEW YORK — Verizon Communications neared a long-anticipated deal Sunday to buy the 45 percent stake in its wireless business held by Vodafone of Britain for about $130 billion, heralding a continued sweeping realignment within the global telecommunications landscape.
Though a deal may have little effect on Verizon Wireless' nearly 100 million subscribers at first, it would ripple through the telecommunications industry and Wall Street, with both having closely watched the back-and-forth of the negotiations for months.
The companies were expected to announce the deal today, barring last-minute hiccups, according to people briefed on it.
A sale would be the third-biggest takeover in corporate history and would give Vodafone a sudden windfall that might lead the British phone company to further acquisitions of its own.
Under the expected terms of the transaction, Verizon is to pay both cash and stock. Vodafone's board was scheduled to meet Sunday to vote on the deal, with Verizon's directors meeting sometime later.
Vodafone confirmed in a statement Sunday afternoon that it was in "advanced discussions" with Verizon over the sale of its stake in Verizon Wireless but declined to provide further detail. Verizon declined to comment.
Verizon would gain full control of perhaps its most important business and a vital beachhead in the growing fight over mobile broadband connections. Verizon Wireless is America's biggest cellphone service operator, claiming 98.9 million subscribers to AT&T's roughly 77.9 million.
The work of connecting smartphones, tablets and other devices yields big bucks. Last year, Verizon Wireless reported $21.8 billion in operating income and $75.9 billion in operating revenue.
For Verizon, an acquisition would finally realize a dream of unwinding a partnership that stretches back 14 years. Verizon Wireless was born of the combination of Vodafone's nascent American cellphone operations with those of Bell Atlantic, a Verizon predecessor, in 1999.
Since then, Verizon Wireless has grown tremendously, spearheading consolidation within the industry alongside AT&T, refocusing the American phone market around the two biggest survivors of the breakup of Ma Bell nearly 30 years ago.
The biggest deals on record are Vodafone's $202.8 billion takeover of the German cellphone operator Mannesmann in 2000, and the $181.6 billion merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2001, according to Thomson Reuters.