But there are plenty others in the frame too
Britain’s biggest mobile operator EE could be the target of a takeover by US telecom’s giant AT&T, it’s claimed, as a virtual guinea pig for its pricing strategies and new technologies. According to the Wall Street Journal, such a purchase would also help AT&T to expand activities beyond American shores as its home market becomes increasingly saturated.
AT&T is the US’s second biggest mobile player behind Verizon Wireless, 45 per cent owned by Britain’s Vodafone.
The other part of the joint venture is owned by Verizon Communications whose own CEO Lowell McAdam has often made it clear he’d like to buy out Vodafone’s share, price permitting.
News that AT&T is on the hunt for a European partner could just as easily shift the focus to Vodafone whose purchase, if feasible, would allow the US operator to kill two birds with one stone.
But for the moment, according to the reports, the most likely acquisition target is EE, owned jointly by Deutsch Telekom and France Telecom, both of whom could use the cash to expand infrastructure in increasingly aggressive markets.
An approach from AT&T could make any offer for EE that much more appealing, especially as neither of the two European players would want to cede control of the UK operator to each other.
Another takeover contender could also be Britain’s O2, owned by Spain’s Telefonica and which only yesterday [17th January 2013] was the subject of rumours that it might be floated on the stock market to help shrink its parent firm’s debts.
Meanwhile, EE’s former CEO Tom Alexander has already been in talks for the past six months about fronting a takeover bid by private equity firm KKR, but nothing has yet materialised.
Since then, France Telecom’s finance director and deputy chief executive, Gervais Pellissier, has said his company could be open to an initial public offering of EE towards the end of this year.