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OneTel sale in doubt

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Centrica is on the verge of scrapping the sale of its OneTel telco operation after failing to receive a decent bid for the business.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that parent company Centrica only received one offer for the telco and that was just a smidgen over £100m - well down on the £300m - £350m valuation put on the company back in September.

As a result the utility giant looks set to pull the sale rather than part with a business which has some 1.7m fixed line and broadband punters for a cut-price.

The few months since September have seen a massive overhaul of the industry forged by a number of mergers and acquisitions. Only today NTL announced plans to buy Virgin Mobile even as it grapples with its merger with Telewest.

Since the end of the summer Sky has lined itself up for the take-over of broadband operator Easynet while a rack of others including Caudwell Communications and Your Communications have been put up for sale.

With so much activity, potential buyers are getting picky. And although the deadline for bids for OneTel has now passed, it's possible the telco could still be prepared to leave the "for sale" sign up for a while longer yet.

Asked to comment a spokesman for OneTel told us: "I can confirm that the deadline last Friday has passed and we are considering our options." ®

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