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Earthlease still sniffing around BT's local loop

To make formal offer soon, says paper

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Earthlease will wait until after the demerger of BT's mobile phone business, mmo2, in November before it makes another stab at trying to convince BT to sell its local loop network.

According to the Guardian Earthlease will make a formal offer for the cables and wires that link customers to the phone network once BT has completed its restructuring.

Earlier this year BT dismissed an £8 billion offer from the consortium, which is led by Babcock & Brown and Chancery Lane Capital. Indeed, BT Retail CEO Pierre Danon also said he thinks the sale would be a bad idea for the telco.

Despite the lack of interest from BT - publicly at least - Earthlease still thinks it's in with a chance. An unnamed source told the Guardian that BT has "left the door open" concerning a possible approach.

Last week, the head of telecoms regulator Oftel said he would "look very carefully at any proposals" surrounding a bid for the local loop.

Interviewed on the video news service, Cantos.com, David Edmonds declined to comment specifically on any speculation surrounding a possible sell-off because he said "it's not for the regulator to comment in advance along those lines".

But he made clear his personal preference: "I have always said that I would be happier if there was greater transparency between the wholesale and the retail sides of BT.

"I think for competition to work it is essential that people know, if they've coming from the outside, that they're being charged the same prices as their competitors inside BT," he said. ®

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