The battle to become the mobile partner of BT intensifies, with the chairman of O2's Spanish owner, Telefonica, reportedly flying to London to lobby for his side, while rival suitor EE's owners hint at more attractive terms for a deal. Hayley Platt reports.
The battle to partner BT is hotting up. The chairman of O2's Spanish owner Telefonica is reportedly in London to help close the deal. And rival suitor EE's owners are hinting at making the terms more attractive. Both suitors are said to be open to taking shares in BT as part of a deal. For BT, it's a question of how to offer a more complete package of services to its customers. A deal with Telefonica would return O2 to its original owner - BT sold off O2 over a decade ago. It would also strengthen BT's position in the market, enabling them to bundle together television, telecoms and broadband. The second question for BT is: who would make the best partner? Telefonica reputedly had a difficult relationship with its previous partner, Telecom Italia - and is seen as the most aggressive of the contenders. It's thought its ambitious nature could lead to it wanting a bigger share of BT in the future. Orange and Deutsche have also locked horns while jointly running EE. The prospect of a deal is thought to be spurring others in the sector into rethinking their strategies. Vodaphone is said to be reviewing potential acquisitions, including of Europe's leading cable operator, Liberty Global. And Hutchison's 3 Group is expected to bid for whichever mobile group misses out on partnering with BT. BT is expected to choose between the two firms by early next week.