Hutchison 3G is offering €1.4 billion to acquire Orange Austria in a deal that could be approved by next month. The purchase, which will require approval from Austrian regulators, would shift Hutchison's position in the Austrian market from number four to number three, behind T-Mobile and market leader A1.
However, the first offer made by Hutchison only amounted to €1.35 billion--€50 million behind what Orange Austria's current owners France Telecom and Mid Europa Partners paid to acquire the operator in 2007. The head of Hutchison Whampoa, Canning Fok, has discussed with rival Hannes Ametsreiter, the CEO of A1, both increasing the bid to €1.4 billion and the sale of Orange Austria assets. This move could see A1 acquiring around 3,000 base stations out of the total of 9,000 when 3 Austria combines with Orange Austria, together with unused licences for 2.1GHz spectrum and the discount brand Yesss!.
The sales of these assets, according to Telecom Paper, could see Hutchison receiving up to €300 million if given the go-ahead by the Austrian telecom regulator. Orange Austria has around 2.3 million customers, and is 35 per cent owned by France Telecom with the remaining 65 per cent held by the private equity firm Mid Europa Partners
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