9/9/2009 10:46:00 AM
Vodafone and O2 eye 3
Vodafone and O2 could be out to buy Hutchison Whampoa’s 3 in the wake of the T-Mobile and Orange merger, industry experts said this week.
With O2 relegated to second place and Vodafone to a humiliating third place by the merger, both operators could be eyeing 3’s UK market share of 8%.
O2 and Vodafone are likely to have both entered bids for T-Mobile, but would not have been able to consider a 50:50 merger, as their UK arms are worth more than T-Mobile’s.
Some observers believe the merger will be ‘very, very good news’ for the industry.
Vodafone will be itching to take share off the new joint venture, which will have to achieve 38% net additions just to stand still.
3 is likely to become a very attractive acquisition target to Vodafone and O2, who will be keen to narrow the massive gap in market share. For 3’s owner Hutchison Whampoa, it will be the first sniff of a successful exit strategy from the UK market.
CCS Insight’s research director, Ben Wood, told Mobile: ‘Operators will be looking at 3, particularly Vodafone. Being pushed into third place with just 25% to the joint ventures’ 37% will be a bitter pill to swallow. Buying 3 will return Vodafone to a strong position in its home market.
‘It is very likely Hutchison will be tempted to divest itself of 3.’
Vodafone and O2 declined to comment.
Hutchison Whampoa was unavailable for comment.