Vodafone and CK Hutchison are in the final talks to merge their British operations and an announcement is expected as soon as Friday or early next week, Reuters news report said.
The structure of the agreed deal is in line with Vodafone’s announcement in October, with the British group owning 51 percent and Hutchison owning 49 percent, achieved by adjusting the ownership of debt rather than exchanging cash.
Including debt the deal could be valued at around 15 billion pounds ($18.6 billion), according to analysts.
The tie-up will create Britain’s biggest mobile operator with about 27 million customers, overtaking BT’s EE and Virgin Mobile O2, owned by Telefonica and Liberty Global.
The deal will face intense scrutiny from regulators who have previously opposed deals that reduce the number of networks in major markets from four to three.