In its latest effort to clear the way for its takeover of O2 UK, CK Hutchison said it is considering running 3 UK and O2 as separate businesses when the deal goes through.
The statement, which appeared in Hutchison’s annual results, also said the company is considering the sale of a stake in 3 UK to an unnamed outside investor.
Such an approach would reduce the cash investment required by Hutchison to fund the deal, which will cost up to £10.25 billion, as well as reducing regulatory concerns.
Hutch already agreed last year for five institutional investors to take a 33 per cent stake in the combined businesses for £3.1 billion.
The company is locked in intense negotiations over remedies with the European Commission, which could involve a new rival gaining access to 3 UK/O2 capacity. Interested parties are thought to include France’s Iliad.
Hutchison is reported to have offered one third of 3 UK/O2’s network combined capacity to rivals, but is pushing back against the EC’s demand for the creation of a fourth network to counterbalance 3 UK/O2.
Its latest announcement appears an effort to bridge the gap with the EC, while also raising a fresh cash investment to fund the acquisition.
Hutchison argued the proposal to keep 3 UK and O2 as separate entities is also “preserving financial and operational efficiencies and savings from the acquisition of O2 UK”, without explaining how those savings could be delivered if the two companies are not combined in a single entity.