Hutchison 3G Austria (H3G) is reported to be close to finalising an agreement to acquire rival mobile operator Orange Austria for EUR1.40 billion (USD1.85 billion), before offloading selected frequencies, base stations and Orange’s wholly-owned Yesss! mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) unit to A1 Telekom Austria in a EUR300 million transaction. According to an unverified report by Austrian technology website FutureZone.at, a deal may be signed as early as next month. The portal notes that H3G made an initial approach for Orange in September, although France Telecom (FT) rejected the opening EUR1.35 billion bid.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in September, in a rare visit to Austria, Hutchison boss Canning Fok kept his cards close to his chest when quizzed on potential acquisition plans, admitting: ‘[Orange is] a very good company, but I cannot comment on rumours’. However, it has now been revealed that Fok was actually in Vienna to conduct discussions with A1 CEO Hannes Ametsreiter, regarding the divestment of certain Orange assets to A1. Talks centred on H3G offloading around 3,000 of Orange’s 5,000 base stations, surplus frequencies in the 2.1GHz spectrum band, and the aforementioned Yesss! MVNO.