Telefonica, the owner of the O2 network, has finalised a deal that will see it sell O2 to Hutchison Whampoa, owner of Three UK, in an agreement worth £10.25 billion, suggesting that a merger between two of the UKs biggest mobile networks is almost ready to take place. It'll be like the super group of mobile networks, with not a Sammy Hagar in sight.
It's a "definitive agreement" according to both parties, which means the deal is only subject to regulatory approval before it can go through -- a process that could take a year to be completed. The union of the two networks would see O2 and Three together become the biggest mobile provider in the UK by some margin, with a 41 per cent market share compared to current leader EE's 29 per cent share.
O2 states that the deal will make for the UK's "most customer-centric mobile operator", which few would argue with; while EE's network coverage and download speeds are considered best, Three is widely believed to offer the best value deals, and O2 to have the best customer service.
It's already been a busy year for the UK mobile industry, with BT re-entering the mobile market as an MVNO through its £12.5 billion acquisition of EE. BT is expected to reveal details of its offering as a network at some point this week.