Hutchison and Vimpelcom in talks to merge 3 Italia and WIND

European telco consolidation continues apace with the news that Hutchison Whampoa and Vimpelcom are in talks to merge their Italian subsidiaries: 3 Italia and WIND, respectively.

Both companies confirmed the talks with functional bulletins in their investor relations sites, with Vimpelcom saying it “…earlier today confirmed that the Company is in discussions with Hutchison regarding a possible equal joint venture between 3 Italia S.p.A. and VimpelCom’s subsidiary WIND Telecomunicazioni S.p.A.  There can be no assurances that an agreement will be signed, and any transaction would be subject to, among other things, achieving satisfactory debt levels and obtaining all required corporate and regulatory approvals.”

That this is a joint venture makes it reminiscent of the move Orange and T-Mobile made in the UK to form EE. However, according to Ovum’s WCIS service, WIND has a far larger share of Italian mobile subscribers, with 25%, than 3 Italia, which has only a 10% share. The terms of the JV will presumably reflect this.

In other Euro consolidation news, Bloomberg reports that the Slovak government will make a decision on the bid by Deutsche Telekom for the half of Slovak Telekom it doesn’t already own. Slovak Telekom was apparently being readied for an IPO, but the reports $1 billion offer from DT is thought to be in excess of the sum expected to be raised by the IPO.

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