Liberty Global eyes O2 bid if Three takeover is blocked

11 May 2016

Liberty Global, the telecoms group that owns UK cableco Virgin Media, has signalled its interest in buying mobile network operator O2 UK if its takeover by rival operator Three UK is blocked by the European Commission (EC). This week, the EC is expected to officially reject attempts by Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison to merge its UK network Three with Telefonica’s O2 unit in a deal worth GBP10.25 billion (USD14.79 billion). As such, the Daily Telegraph quotes Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries as telling investors: ‘We look at all options in the marketplace and it would be strange if we didn’t evaluate that option.’ Earlier this year Virgin was linked with a GBP1 billion deal to acquire 10% of the capacity on the enlarged Three-O2 network.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Virgin Media currently piggybacks on EE’s network in order to offer its Virgin Mobile MVNO service, which boasted 3.016 million subscribers at end-2015. If the mooted takeover of O2 went ahead, it would see Virgin ascend to the top of the UK mobile market.

United Kingdom, Hutchison 3G UK (Three UK), Liberty Global (incl. LGI), O2 UK, Telefonica, Virgin Media, Virgin Mobile UK