Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. and VimpelCom Ltd. have revived talks to merge their wireless assets in Italy, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the negotiations.
Hutchison, the diversified flagship of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, wants its 3 Italia unit to control any enlarged entity. VimpelCom prefers a 50-50 partnership with its Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA subsidiary.
The two sides are no closer to an agreement, the report said.
A merger could create the biggest Italian mobile carrier with 35 percent of the country’s customers, excluding resellers, Wind estimates show.
Representatives for 3 Italia and VimpelCom, which is controlled by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, declined to comment on the talks.
The negotiations come as European carriers struggle to maintain prices for their services amid intensifying competition.
The European Union’s approval this month of a merger of two national wireless carriers in Germany gave the struggling US$230 billion industry a reprieve while clearing the way for a new round of mergers and acquisitions.
Hutchison and VimpelCom have held merger talks in the past 12 months after 3 Italia and Telecom Italia SpA, the country’s biggest phone company, broke off negotiations, the report said.
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