February 2, 2015 / 8:15 AM / in 4 years

Sovereign wealth funds in talks to back $15 billion O2 deal: report

A woman speaks on her mobile telephone outside an O2 shop in Loughborough, central England January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Staples

LONDON (Reuters) - Some of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds are in talks to provide financial backing for Hutchison Whampoa’s acquisition of Telefonica’s British mobile business, the Telegraph newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.

The 10 billion pound ($15 billion) move by Li Ka Shing’s Hutchison to merge its Three Mobile network with Telefonica’s O2 UK will make the group the top mobile operator in the country.

The Telegraph said sovereign wealth funds including China Investment Corporation, Singapore’s Temasek and GIC, and one of Qatar’s big government-sponsored vehicles were in talks to provide a significant portion of the financing.

The winning candidate would become a large investor in the mobile operator with up to a third of the shares, it added.

China Investment Corporation, GIC and Temasek could not immediately be reached for comment.

($1 = 0.6645 pounds)

Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; Editing by Mark Potter

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