Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., the conglomerate controlled by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing, said Friday that it is in exclusive talks to buy Telefonica’s British mobile unit O2 for up to 10.25 billion pounds (US$15.4 billion).
The deal will mark Li’s biggest ever acquisition, surpassing Hutchison’s US$7.5 billion purchase of Britain’s Northumbrian Water Group in 2011, according to Reuters.
The O2 acquisition will help Hutchison, which already operates the Three Mobile network in Britain, become the top mobile operator in the UK market, the report noted.
Hutchison will pay 9.25 billion pounds in cash, plus up to one billion pounds in “interest sharing payments” should the combined business reach certain cash flow targets, the group was quoted as saying in a statement.
The proposed transaction comes just two weeks after Li announced a major restructuring of his businesses, splitting them into two listed entities — one focusing on property and the second on telecommunications, ports, infrastructure and others.
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