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Bidders for BT local loop put heads together

Summit meeting planned

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The two companies that have put in bids for BT's local loop are planning a summit meeting with a view to working together, the Sunday Times reported yesterday.

The meeting between Earthlease, which offered BT £8 billion in July for its local loop, and West LB, which offered £18 billion for BT's entire landline business a week later, is scheduled to take place this week.

BT has ruled out any sale in public but a new corporate outlook that is taking shape in the monster telco suggests several senior managers are giving the matter serious consideration. It all depends on which way BT decides to go once it spins off its wireless business - now called mmO2 - next month.

BT is attempting to move away from milking its backbone and turn itself into a services company. If it also agrees that the loss of control of the telecoms infrastructure is inevitable (especially when new super-regulator Ofcom is formed and turns its eyes on the company), then it makes sense to sell it off for a chunk of money. This money would then cut its debt and provide extensive funds for expansion.

A renewed bid from the companies is expected after mmO2's float. ®

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West LB still sniffing round BT's network
Earthlease still sniffing around BT's local loop
BT offered £18bn for phone network
BT dismisses £8 billion bid for local loop

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