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Deutsche Telekom on Tuesday admitted trying to form a bid partnership with KPN of the Netherlands with the aim of making an offer for O2, but said talks had ended without agreement on an offer for the UK-based mobile company.
Germany's dominant telecommunications group revealed the private talks with its Dutch counterpart after UK regulators requested it declare its intentions.
This followed media reports that the two had sought to forge an offer thought to be worth about £14bn ($25bn) but had failed to agree terms.
“Deutsche Telekom has noted recent press speculation about its potential interest in O2. DT and KPN initiated exploratory discussions with respect to a potential acquisition of O2. These discussions have now ended,” said the German company.
“At the request of the panel on takeovers and mergers, DT confirms it has no present intention of making an offer for O2,” it added. Under the rules of the City of London, such a declaration rules Deutsche Telekom out of a bid for six months.
Under the terms of the plan, KPN would have taken control of O2's German operations, allowing DT to overcome regulatory barriers and take over the core O2 businesses in the UK and Ireland.
KPN, which owns German mobile unit E-Plus, also confirmed preliminary talks had taken place but were now at an end.
“The transaction in contemplation by KPN was the acquisition of O2's German business. The board of KPN confirms that it has no current intention to make an offer for O2,” said the Dutch company.
O2, which was spun-off from BT, has long been tipped as a target for Deutsche Telekom as it seeks to boost growth at its UK mobile division which is running out of steam in the face of intense competition. Speculation this month prompted Kai-Uwe Ricke, Telekom's chief executive, to play down its interest in the company.
O shares closed down 3¾p at 142¾p.