BT has responded to news reports about its possible acquisition of the O2 mobile network from Telefónica UK. The speculation was first published on a website in Spain, with suggestions that Telefonica could receive a 20% share of BT as part of the multi-million pound deal.
In a statement, BT Group said “We have received expressions of interest from shareholders in two UK mobile network operators, of which one is O2, about a possible transaction in which BT would acquire their UK mobile business. All discussions are at a highly preliminary stage and there can be no certainty that any transaction will occur.”
BT currently has its own ‘virtual’ mobile network that uses EE for connectivity.
Although BT didn’t name the other mobile network it’s been talking to, most speculation focuses on EE. This network is currently run as a joint venture between Orange and Deutsche Telekom, but Orange CEO Stephane Richard recently said “the 50-50 situation isn't a long-term scheme”.
BT ran its own mobile network until 2001, when ‘BT Cellnet’ became a separate company branded as O2. The O2 business was acquired by Telefonica in 2005.
[More details: Telegraph.co.uk; FT.com]