Vodafone and Hutchison may merge UK business

Vodafone and CK Hutchison are close to agreeing a merger of their UK telecoms businesses in a 15 billion pounds ($19 billion) deal that would create the country’s biggest mobile operator, Reuters news report said.
Vodafone 5G ItalyThe deal would value the equity of the combined group at about 9 billion pounds, with roughly 6 billion pounds of debt, the Financial Times reported.

Negotiations are expected to be completed this month.

Hutchison is scheduled to update on first quarter trading on May 9, while Vodafone publishes it full-year results on May 16.

The tie-up – with a planned ownership split of 51 percent Vodafone and 49 percent Hutchison, the Hong-Kong telecoms-to-ports conglomerate part-owned by billionaire Li Ka-shing – is likely to face intense regulatory scrutiny.

CK Hutchison’s senior leadership met British government officials in March to seek political support for the deal.

Hutchison’s co-managing director Canning Fok also met Vodafone’s interim Chief Executive Margherita della Valle, who has since been appointed permanently to the role.

The combination could also enable Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison to withdraw from the UK telecoms market.