T-Mobile Eyeing 3?

9:15 AM -- The German weekly business news magazine Wirtschaftswoche reports that Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT)'s mobile division T-Mobile International AG is interested in Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (Hong Kong: 0013; Pink Sheets: HUWHY)'s European mobile operations, particularly the Italian business, 3 Italia . The price tag for Hutch's European businesses is reportedly €15 billion ($21.3 billion).

It's not the first time that the two operators have been linked together. In the U.K., Three UK and T-Mobile (UK) are talking about sharing their radio access networks (RANs), and some analysts have jumped to the conclusion that the cooperation could lead to an acquisition. (See T-Mobile to Bid for 3? and 3, T-Mobile Talks.)

The German mobile operator has made no secret of its intentions to expand through acquisition where it makes sense. The operator just bought SunCom Wireless Inc. for $2.4 billion in the U.S. and acquired Orange (NYSE: FTE)'s assets in the Netherlands. (See T-Mobile to Buy SunCom for $2.4B, DT Plans M&A, IPTV Push, DT Outlines Strategy, and DT Plans Strategy Revamp.)

A T-Mobile spokesman says that the report in Wirtschaftswoche can't be taken as confirmation that 3 and T-Mobile are in negotiations. But he added, "We definitely look for interesting opportunities in the market."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading

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