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Bidding war breaks out for T-Mobile UK

Telefonica joins Vodafone

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Assorted mobile operators are lining up to bid for T-Mobile's UK business - or at least have a good look at its books.

Deutsche Telecom has appointed advisers JP Morgan to help it shift its UK network. On Monday Vodafone was named as a possible bidder, either on its own or in partnership with 3.

This has sparked interest from Telefonica, which owns O2, and would lose its top UK spot to Vodafone if a merger with T-Mobile went ahead. Vodafone is second to O2 in the UK and a merger would give it some 40 per cent of the market.

But that's not all. France Telecom, owner of Orange, is also understood to be considering some kind of joint venture or network sharing deal, the FT reports.

The pink paper said Telefonica is "considering the case for bidding" and no final decision had been made.

Any deal involving another UK operator would likely attract the attention of competition authorities worried by one company getting such a large market share.

T-Mobile UK is valued at about £3bn - about a quarter less than the firm paid for its 3G licence back in April 2000 when it was known as One 2 One. ®

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