Hutchison Whampoa Limited

3UK Parent Hutchison Mulls Bid for O2, EE

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3UK parent Hutchison Whampoa is lining up a bid for one of either EE or O2, both of which are currently in merger talks with BT.

Unnamed sources cited by Reuters on Thursday claim the Hong Kong-based conglomerate has hired an advisory firm and could launch a bid by the end of the year.

A merger between 3UK and a rival would almost certainly come in for scrutiny from European antitrust bodies, given it would reduce the number of U.K. mobile operators to three from four.

With 24.5 million mobile connections, EE is the U.K.’s biggest player. Of that total, 5.6 million are 4G customers, giving it a comfortable lead in the market. O2 ranks a close second with 24.1 million overall mobile customers.

According to Reuters‘ sources, O2 parent Telefonica is understood to prefer a deal with BT, since the latter does not currently compete in the consumer mobile market and therefore a merger would throw up fewer antitrust issues.

However, the same people said Telefonica could be persuaded to sell O2 to Hutchison if BT ends up acquiring EE. Click here to read more at Total Telecom

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Wahengbam Rorrkychand

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