VimpelCom and Hutchison in talks to merge Italian mobile units

VimpelCom has confirmed that it is in talks with Hutchison Whampoa to merge their mobile phone businesses in Italy.

The companies are discussing a possible equal joint venture between 3 Italia and VimpelCom’s subsidiary Wind, said VimpelCom.  

A merger would reduce the number of mobile networks in Italy from four to three. Telecom Italia and Vodafone are the mobile market leaders in the country – with Wind and 3 Italia standing as the third and fourth largest, respectively. The companies have been in talks for over a year.

“There can be no assurances that an agreement will be signed, and any transaction would be subject to, among other things, achieving satisfactory debt levels and obtaining all required corporate and regulatory approvals,” said VimpelCom.

Hutchison Whampoa has sought to increase its presence in Europe, acquiring Orange Austria and O2 Ireland. Earlier this year, the company agreed to acquire Telefonica’s O2 for £10.25billion to form UK's largest mobile operator.

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