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Fight is on for T-Mobile UK

07 сентября 2009

A bidding war has started for T-Mobile UK after Vodafone and Telefónica made informal offers worth about £4bn for Deutsche Telekom’s British subsidiary.

The cash offers for Britain’s fourth largest mobile operator were submitted at the end of last month and underline how Vodafone and Telefónica are keen to prevent each other from securing clear market leadership in the UK.

O2, Telefónica’s UK subsidiary, is the largest UK mobile operator. If Vodafone bought T-Mobile UK it would be the largest.

Deutsche Telekom is talking to France Telecom, Orange UK’s owner, about linking their UK assets in a joint venture.

Germany’s leading telecoms company is considering selling its UK subsidiary after years of underperformance in the ultra-competitive UK market. Analysts estimate T-Mobile UK’s enterprise value at €3bn-€4bn.

Vodafone, Telefónica, France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom declined to comment.

Vodafone ceded leadership in the UK mobile market to O2 in 2006 and is struggling to improve its performance.

O2 had a 27.7 per cent share of the revenue paid by UK mobile phone users in 2009’s second quarter. Vodafone had 24.7 per cent, Orange 21.5 per cent and T-Mobile 14.9 per cent.

Robin Bienenstock, analyst at Bernstein, said Vodafone or Telefónica could secure synergies worth about €3bn by buying T-Mobile UK. The synergies should come in the form of greater pricing power, reduced customer defections to rivals, and mobile network efficiencies.

Ms Bienenstock said any buyer of T-Mobile UK should be in pole position to reach a deal with US technology company Apple to be the exclusive UK mobile network for the iPhone.

O2 has strengthened its grip on the UK mobile market via its 2007 deal with Apple to be the sole UK network for the iPhone.

O2 is bracing itself for the possibility that Apple will end the deal in November.

Regulators would subject any T-Mobile UK deal to intense scrutiny. Vodafone and Telefónica are considering what concessions they could make to obtain approval from competition watchdogs.

Telefónica and China Unicom, China’s second largest mobile operator, on Sunday said they will both buy $1bn worth of each other’s shares.

Источник: Financial Times

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