Asia’s richest man could steer mobile phone network Three to purchase O2 for £9 billion, the Sunday Times reports.
Now, the Hong Kong billionaire businessman Li Ka-shing, who controls the company through the conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, is reportedly in talks to purchase O2 from Telefonica. Discussions about a potential deal are in the early stages. Li-shing, 86, has a net worth of $US33.5 billion, according to Forbes.
The Guardian notes the sale could grant Three 23 million of O2’s customers. O2 is the UK’s second largest mobile network company, second to EE, and the Sunday Times writes that the acquisition would “herald a further shake-out in the telecoms business”.
BT entered exclusive talks with Deutsche Telekom and Orange to buy mobile network EE for £12.5 billion. BT had previously touted O2 as a possible purchase — Telefonica is trying reduce costs and debts as the Spanish economy continues to struggle.
The potential deal is another sign of UK telecoms companies looking to merge and grow as US-style quad play packages appeal to the market. If Three were to buy O2 it would mean the country’s number of operators would fall from 4 to 3.
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