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Carphone Warehouse linked to Tiscali buy-up (again)

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Tiscali shares were given a boost today on the Italian stock exchange by reports that it is once again close to a deal to offload its UK operation to Carphone Warehouse.

Tiscali has been trying to sell its almost 1.8m subscribers for over a year, and Carphone Warehouse has been named as a suitor throughout. Italian papers said today its interest was renewed.

A deal would see Carphone Warehouse leapfrog Virgin Media to become the country's second largest broadband provider behind BT.

Sky and Vodafone reportedly pulled out of acquisition talks with Tiscali after balking at its £550m asking price. On Friday The Telegraph said Carphone Warehouse was now offering about £200m.

Tiscali's Italian owners now need the cash urgently to service its massive debts. Bankers agreed to suspend interest payments earlier this month to allow it to sort out its finances.

Soon after, auditors refused to validate Tiscali's annual accounts, citing fears it might go titsup. ®

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