Vodafone-Three deal reportedly expected ‘within days’

Vodafone Three merger expectedVodafone and UK mobile operator Three owner CK Hutchison are in the ultimate stages of agreeing a merger deal and an announcement could be made tomorrow or at the beginning of next week, according to a report by Reuters.

According to the news service, under the terms of the agreement Vodafone will have a 51% stake in the combined group, which would be worth about £15 billion including £6 billion in debt – which is line with public statements already made by Vodafone.

The combined Vodafone-Three will have about 27 million mobile customers, making it the UK’s largest player. Unlike rivals BT/EE and Virgin Media O2, Vodafone-Three would not have a large fixed-line presence or a TV offering.

The Reuters report follows one by the FT in May that the pair were very close to agreeing the deal that month. However, no announcement was ultimately forthcoming.

The appointment of Margherita Della Valle as permanent CEO of Vodafone was seen as  oiling the wheels of the merger  after a period of uncertainty regarding who would take the helm at the telecom giant.

The likelihood of the pair getting together has been widely reported in recent months, with media reports in April suggesting an agreement was imminent.

Three UK CEO Robert Finnegan had previously said that the CK Hutchison-owned business was “unsustainable” without the merger.

been looking at merger options in its core markets for some time – as it seeks to reduce its high debt pile. The merger with Three has long been touted as the most likely deal to happen first.

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