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Murdoch closes in on Easynet

Moving in for the kill

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Easynet - the telco that's invested heavily in providing broadband services to rival BT - has confirmed that it has been approached regarding a possible buyout.

The admission follows reports that satellite operator BSkyB is lining up a bid for local loop unbundling (LLU) operator Easynet as part of a cunning plan to go head-to-head with BT and NTL/Telewest.

In a statement issued today the company said: "The Board of Easynet notes the recent press speculation and movement in its share price. The Board can confirm that it has received an approach that may or may not lead to a formal offer being made for the Company.

"There can be no assurance that a formal offer will be made for the Company as a result of this approach."

Although Easynet - which also operates the UK Online ISP - would not confirm that it's holding talks with BSkyB, there seems little doubt that the satellite broadcaster has made an approach.

Last week it emerged that BSkyB wanted to acquire a broadband telco and was prepared to invest in LLU in a bid to provide phone and broadband services direct to end users.

Such a tie-up would enabled BSkyB to offer punters the all-important "triple play" of phone, TV and broadband services - something its rivals NTL and Telewest do already.

Now that NTL and Telewest have agreed to merge, the enlarged group - with access to half of the UK's homes - would pose a serious threat to BSkyB's position. Likewise, BT is also pressing ahead with its plans to offer TV over broadband with a commercial service expected to be launched within the next 12 months. ®

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