O2 acquisition by Three’s parent Hutchison Whampoa is ‘least likely’, Ronan Dunne says

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O2 Chief Executive Ronan Dunne is of the opinion that the networks’ takeover by rival Hutchison Whampoa, parent company of Three, is the ‘least likely’ of all the possible acquisition bids in-line. The statement comes after a Thursday report claimed that Hutchison is also in line with BT considering a potential takeover of EE or O2.

Last week, BT had revealed it was in preliminary talks with O2 owner Telefónica as well as a second mobile operator about a potential buyout deal as it intends to re-enter mobile network arena, currently dominated by EE, O2 Vodafone and 3, to offer a single “quad-play” package of television, broadband, landline and mobile telephone services.

The mystery of the second unnamed mobile operator soon got resolved when on Wednesday of last week, EE, owned by Deutsche Telekom and Orange, confirmed that it too was in talks with BT.

According to recent reports, Hutchison Whampoa is also considering possibilities of putting a bid on either O2 or EE and with deeper pockets than BT.

Dunne denied rumours, which suggested it would be bought by Hutchison, saying at a media dinner that “Of all the scenarios in the market I think it’s the least likely.”

“At the back end of last year some analysts told me that their main prediction for this year was that Three will buy O2. All I would say is I slept very soundly that night.”

He added that it is highly unlikely to have only three or four mobile networks operating in the UK and that it’s a viable market for the number of operators in it.