Hutchison Whampoa is considering an acquisition of Ireland’s largest telecommunications operator Eircom, according to an Irish Independent report. The report cites banking sources, suggesting that the Asian group could afford a potential €6 billion deal as it is in a strong financial position with around US$25 billion in cash on its balance sheet. Speculation suggests Eircom’s majority owner, Babcock & Brown Capital, may consider bids for the operation as it is embroiled in its own financial difficulties.

Hutchison already owns 3 Ireland, the country’s smallest mobile operator with 443,000 subscribers as of end-Q2 2008, according to Wireless Intelligence.  Meanwhile Eircom owns rival mobile operator Meteor Mobile, the third-largest of Ireland’s four mobile operators with almost a million subscribers. The report notes that a sale of Eircom would mark the fifth time the company has been sold in a decade. AIM-listed investment group Lit plc has recently been linked to an acquisition of Eircom, as has BT.