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SHARES in Vodafone suffered their biggest morning drop in five years yesterday as US mobile operator AT&T ruled out buying the firm for the next six months.

More Irish people own shares in Vodafone than in any other company, because it paid in shares to buy Eircom's former Eircell unit a decade ago.

It means 400,000 investors were hit as Vodafone stocks plummeted as much as 6pc yesterday morning, giving it a market valuation of £107bn (€130bn).

The shares jumped more than 50pc last year.

AT&T had sparked speculation that it could be interested in a deal with Vodafone after its chief executive Randall Stephenson (left) said there was a "huge opportunity" to invest in mobile broadband in Europe.