3 and BT braced for bidding war for ownership of EE or O2

The owner of mobile network 3 and telecoms giant BT appear to be on the brink of a battle to acquire either the EE or O2 mobile networks.

The surprise news that BT was in talks to acquire O2 – a network it once co-owned but previously sold to Telefonica in 2005 – emerged earlier this week. Shortly after EE revealed that it had also held preliminary talks with BT about a possible sale.

Now Reuters reports that Hutchison Whampoa, which owns UK network 3, is preparing its own bid for either EE or O2 in an attempt to stop BT expanding its already dominant landline network into the mobile realm.

The site adds that BT is currently weighing up whether to stretch” itself to buy EE, which is the UK’s biggest mobile network, or to settle with O2, the second biggest and apparently the simpler option”. It would also avoid the potential antitrust issues posed by the size of a joined BT and EE.

O2 is currently valued at around 9.4bn and EE at 11bn.

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