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One2One price scares off bidders

Suitors back off leaving way set for a float

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The sale of mobile network One2One has run aground as potential buyers, France Telecom and Mannesmann, question the asking price. The company failed to spark enough interest at the current price to complete a trade sale, so it now look set for a float. Perhaps One2One's most attractive feature is that it is practically guaranteed one of the five licenses that will be issued nest year for the next mobile services generation. It has average revenues of £480 million per year, a big chunk of the radio spectrum and can handle 130 million calls a week. What more is an operator to do to get itself bought? Well, it could lower the asking price, according to analysts. The company also has debts of £1.5 billion and continues to make a loss and yet was priced at £11 billion. Speaking to the Financial Times today, Paul Sharma of Investec Henderson Crossthwaite said: "One2One would trade at a discount to Orange, which has overseas assets. We would expect it to be valued at up to £7.5 billion." Those extra billions make a big difference. In beer tokens, that is over a billion beers, even at central London prices. ®

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