Vodafone in talks about a merger with Hutchison's Three UK

Vodafone said on Monday it was in talks with CK Hutchison about merging their businesses in Britain, to create a market-leading operator that could accelerate the roll-out of 5G and expand broadband connectivity.

Vodafone in talks about a merger with Hutchison's Three UK
Shoppers wear protective face masks in front of a Vodafone store inside a City Centre mall ahead of Black Friday, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Cairo suburb of Maadi, Egypt November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/file Photo
Vodafone in talks about a merger with Hutchison's Three UK

LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Vodafone said on Monday it was in talks with CK Hutchison about merging their businesses in Britain, to create a market-leading operator that could accelerate the roll-out of 5G and expand broadband connectivity.

Vodafone said it would own 51% and Hutchison 49% under the deal being discussed, with the shares achieved through differential leverage contribution and no cash consideration paid.

Vodafone and Hutchison were hopeful of striking a deal by the end of the year, according to an earlier Sky report.

Combining Vodafone UK and Hutchison's Three, the third and fourth largest networks respectively, would create a business with 27 million customers - making it larger than current leaders BT's EE and Virgin Media O2.

Shares in Vodafone were up 2.4% at 104 pence by 1035 GMT, compared with a 0.5% fall in the FTSE 100.

Vodafone Chief Executive Nick Read had said in February the company was pursuing mergers with rivals in multiple European markets to improve returns where players barely cover the costs of the capital required to invest in networks.

Regulators have previously opposed deals that reduce the number of networks in major markets from four to three but there have been signals that the position had changed from regulators who had realized the value of network investment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

($1 = 0.8944 pounds)

Reporting by Pul Sandle, Sachin Ravikumar, and Muvija M; editing by William James