BT buys out Viag for £3.6 billion

Doubling its holding from 45 per cent to 90 per cent

BT is to pay £3.6 billion to double its shareholding in German wireless firm Viag. The purchase gives BT control of the company (before it only had 45 per cent). It is buying out E.on's 45 per cent share. The remaining 10 per cent of the company, owned by Norwegian telco Telenor, is excluded from the deal but BT has offered to buy that as well.

BT has already invested £1.2 billion in the company - the smallest of Germany's four mobile operators. E.on agreed to sell its share so it can concentrate on its core energy business.

Viag is currently involved in the bidding for 3G mobile licences in Germany (now standing at £28.5 billion in total). A BT spokesman said the deal was not dependent on Viag coming out a winner, so it looks all the more likely that BT will stop at nothing to get hold of one of the licences. Especially since it was knocked down from the top spot in the UK auctions and lost out in its bid to gain control of Spanish wireless company Airtel.

BT has been desperately trying to work its way into the European market but has so far been beaten to the post. Depending on which way you look at it, BT has either scored a hit or is fighting for the scraps. ®

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