Verizon has confirmed that it will pay out a dividend of $10 billion in January 2012. Announced last Thursday, the dividend is the first since 2005 for Verizon, which, in recent years, has focused on paying down debt. Vodafone, which acquired a 45% stake upon formation of the Verizon Wireless venture in 2000, will receive a total dividend payment of $4.5 billion, out of which $3 billion will go to shareholders. (The remaining $1.5 billion will be targeted toward the reduction of Vodafone net debt.) In addition to boosting Vodafone’s free cash flow by nearly forty percent, the long-awaited dividend also raises hopes for similar future payouts among shareholders of Vodafone who, in recent years, have criticized the lack of returns from Verizon and have pressured Vodafone officials to either sell Vodafone’s holding or offer to acquire Verizon. Proclaiming, “our long-term partnership in Verizon’s strong and successful wireless business has seen the value of our investment increase significantly,” Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao told reporters that the dividend “allows us not only to reward our own shareholders . . . but also to continue to reinvest in our business to improve our customers’ experience, further strengthen our competitive position and create additional value.” Noting that Vodafone rejected Verizon’s offer in 2006 to buy out the British firm’s stake, Sir John Bond, the outgoing chairman of Vodafone, described Verizon’s decision to resume dividend payments as a vindication of his company’s strategy.