The company behind UK mobile operator Three, Hutchison Whampoa, is reportedly looking to purchase competitor O2, which is currently owned by Telefonica. The deal could be worth as much as $13.6 billion to Telefonica, who The Financial Times reports to have enlisted the aid of investment bank UBS to analyze available options, including partnership and flotation of the business.
Discussions with Hutchison Whampoa were described as part of these considerations by one person with knowledge of the situation, although there was no deal on the table or any certainty of an offer being made on either side. He added that there was also no urgency given a deal between BT and EE would be unlikely to conclude until 2016.
Telefonica is looking to effectively pull out of the UK wireless market and reduce the company's debt, allowing Three to enter into negotiations. BT is already looking to snap up market share by acquiring EE. A potential deal has not been confirmed between Three and O2, but a merger would certainly put the former on a more even play field against Vodafone and EE.