UK-based Vodafone Group is said to have recently explored the possibility of acquiring rival mobile network operator (MNO) Three UK, Bloomberg reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter. It is understood that Vodafone Group expressed its interest to Three UK’s owner, Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison, late last year. This approach did not lead to an agreement, however, while the report cites the unnamed sources as saying that there are not currently any active negotiations between Vodafone Group and CK Hutchison.
Separately, This Is Money reported that Vodafone’s approach for the MNO may have been made amid rumours that Vodafone itself itself could be a takeover target: there have been suggestions that either a private equity firm or an American telecoms group is eyeing the British telecoms giant. That news outlet also claimed that, while Vodafone’s attempt to acquire Three UK has currently been paused, discussions between the two sides could be restarted should CK Hutchison successfully convince UK regulators to approve a separate tower sale deal; the Hong Kong company aims to sell Three UK’s passive infrastructure assets to Cellnex, though last month the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raised concerns, saying that deal could harm competition.