Three and Vodafone merger talks “accelerated”


(Pocket-lint) – Merger talks between UK mobile operators Three and Vodafone have reportedly “accelerated” in recent times.

The two networks are said to be back at the negotiating table after initial talks over a joint venture seemed to have stalled over the summer.

In May, it was claimed that Vodafone and CK Hutchinson’s Three UK discussed plans to create a larger network to compete with the likes of EE and Virgin Media O2.

Three had previously failed in its attempt to acquire O2, with the European Commission blocked the move. However, a combine Vodafone and Three would enable the new venture to accelerate network rollout, including 5G.

Things went quiet, however, and it was suggested the deal was off. Now insiders (via Sky News) claim the talks are back on and at an “advanced stage”.

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It is likely that Vodafone and Three will be looking for an equal partnership, with Three in particular investing heavily in its network infrastructure in recent times.

Any proposed merger will have to be approved by UK regulators, including Ofcom and the Competitions and Markets Authority. We don’t expect an announcement anytime soon, therefore. And, although a deal might be agreed by the end of the year (as suggested by Sky), it could be a further year or longer before it is ratified.

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Neither Vodafone nor Three have commented to date.

Writing by Rik Henderson.

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