Optical/IP Networks

Battle for T-Mobile UK Heats Up

A bidding war for T-Mobile (UK) is in full swing as Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and Telefónica UK Ltd. have made offers for Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT)'s U.K. mobile operator, according to the latest reports.

The Sunday Times reports that Vodafone and O2 have proposed conditional offers of £3.5 billion (US$5.7 billion) for the business and that a decision is expected within weeks. But the price offered is understood to be below what Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann was expecting.

But Obermann may in fact prefer a deal with Orange (NYSE: FTE)'s Orange UK business, and it's possible that no deal will result at all from any of the M&A discussions, according to the report.

And The Wall Street Journal reports that a joint venture deal between T-Mobile and Orange in the U.K. is imminent.

If any of the suitors get their hands on T-Mobile, they would have the biggest market share in terms of mobile revenues in the country. But any deal would raise eyebrows at regulator Ofcom and at the European Commission in Brussels, which is why Vodafone and O2 have reportedly added certain concessions in their conditional offers.

The fate of T-Mobile's U.K. business has been up in the air for months since Orange veteran exec Richard Moat was appointed as managing director to turn the business around, a move that sparked a slew of M&A speculation. (See Fitch: Europe's Too Crowded, T-Mobile Preps UK Revamp, Orange Denies T-Mobile Bid, Vodafone Mulls T-Mobile Bid, and T-Mobile UK Update.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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