Early stage talks are believed to have been held over a possible £8bn takeover bid for Orange and T-Mobile joint venture Everything Everywhere, according to reports.
Private equity firms KKR and Apax are believed to be in detailed discussions with Everything Everywhere's parent companies, Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom, in the hope of winning approval for its debt-backed bid, The Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph reported.
It has also been reported today (18 June) that the bidders considered a potential takeover of the cable company Virgin Media in order to build a more effecitve competitior to BT and BSkyB.
Virgin Mobile founder Tom Alexander and former Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin are believed to be leading KKR amd Apax's negotiations with Everything Everywhere, which operates the mobile phones of 28 million customers in the UK.
Everything Everywhere was formed in 2010 by merging Orange and T-Mobile, the British assets of the two European telecoms giants, delivering £3.5bn of cost savings to its owners.
It recently unveiled a £50m investment plan in a new development academy, which will train up to 12,000 staff to ensure its stores and call centres have experts dedicated to specific devices and their operating systems.
The company has also embarked on a programme of refreshing and modernising its high street store estate. It has already announced that it will start selling both T-Mobile and Orange products across all of its stores.
Everything Everywhere is spending more than £1.5bn over the next three years to bring faster and more reliable coverage to its customers.
In a statement, Everything Everywhere said: 'We have a clearly articulated, five-year plan for growth under the ownership of our shareholders France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, and we are delivering on that plan.'
The statement added: 'We would not comment on any possible future shareholder structure of our business.'