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BT cool on Pipex buyout rumours

Are they bothered?

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BT has played down speculation that it is eyeing up broadband outfit Pipex as a possible £350m take-over target.

Weekend press reports suggested the UK's dominant fixed line telco is mulling a bid for the ISP, which is one of two operators (the other is PCCW) to hold a licence to develop WiMAX networks in the UK. BT wants to use WiMAX to help support a mobile service based on the technology, but needs the licence to proceed. The assumption has been that BT needed to buy an existing licence holder as part of its WiMAX strategy.

Today, though, BT floated the idea that it might bid for a licence once they come up for auction again rather than buy up an ISP. A spokesman told us: "We don't necessarily need to make an acquisition to operate in the WiMAX space."

Which is true, except that well-placed industry sources have confirmed to El Reg that BT is sniffing around Pipex and that weekend reports were spot on.

It's as though the news leaked out to flush out an improved bid for Pipex, while BT's comments today are meant to suggest that if it gets involved in a bidding war, it's prepared to obtain a licence in another way. ®

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