3 Austria to acquire Orange Austria

3 Austria is reportedly close to finalising an agreement to acquire Orange Austria in a €1.4 billion deal.

A takeover bid was already approved in September by 3 Austria’s parent company Hutchison Whampoa, with the deal expected to be closed in December. Once complete, the acquisition will give 3 an additional 2.3 million customers.

The company initially bid €1.35 billion, which was €50 million lower than Orange Austria’s current owners France Telecom and Mid Europa paid for the company, then known as One, in 2007.

Discussions are already said to have taken place between Hutchison Whampoa CEO, Canning Fok and A1 Telekom Austria CEO Hannes Ametsreiter regarding the sale of several of Orange Austria’s assets to A1. These include 3,000 of its 5,000 base stations and 2.1GHz licences, along with discount brand Yesss! The assets are expected to fetch €200-€300 million, but the deal has yet to be approved by the Austrian regulator RTR.

The acquisition of Orange Austria by 3 will come as a surprise to many, who had expected a full merger between T-Mobile and Orange’s Austrian networks instead. The two companies announced a partnership agreement in April this year relating only to 3G services in rural Austria, leading to rumours of a merger similar to the jointly managed Everywhere Everywhere brand in the UK.

In February 2011, Orange hinted strongly that the Everything Everywhere joint venture might act as a template for similar mergers in other European countries. At the time, Elie Girard, France Telecom-Orange VP of strategy and development, said more collaboration at network level between the two parties would “address new growth opportunities as well as operational efficiency issues".

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