There has been widespread speculation in the European media about the future of Hutchison Whampoa's Italian third generation mobile operation 3 Italia. A potential merger between 3 Italia and national operator Telecom Italia reportedly foundered over differences in the valuation placed on 3 Italia by its owners. If the merger had happened it was rumoured that 3 Italia would be broken up with its assets divided between Telecom Italia and Wind. 3 Italia has moved quickly to damp down media speculation concerning a possible break-up issuing a ‘categorical denial' yesterday. Other options being touted for the future direction of 3 Italia include remaining independent, being sold to an unmade Middle Eastern sovereign fund and having a non-European telecoms operator buying a 50 per cent stake. 3 Italia has around 5.5 million subscribers representing a 6.5 per cent market share.
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