May 14, 2015 / 12:50 AM / 3 years ago

Hutchison says in talks with VimpelCom on Italian mobile merger

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd 0013.HK, controlled by tycoon Li Ka-shing, confirmed on Thursday it is in talks with Russian telecoms group VimpelCom Ltd VIP.O about a possible merger of their Italian mobile businesses.

Hutchison Whampoa Chairman Li Ka-shing attends a news conference announcing the company's annual results in Hong Kong February 28, 2014. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Hutchison said is in “exploratory negotiations” about a merger of Hutchison’s 3 Italia S.p.A. and VimpelCom’s WIND Telecomunicazioni S.p.A. in Italy into an equal joint venture.

Vimpelcom Chief Executive Jean-Yves Charlier said on Wednesday that the two companies were holding talks about an Italian mobile deal.

A deal would combine Wind, Italy’s third-largest mobile network operator, with fourth-placed 3 Italia and cut the number of competing operators to three, as has already happened in Germany, Austria and Ireland, reducing competitive pressures and helping end a long price war.

The transaction remains subject to signing of agreements, achieving satisfactory debt levels and obtaining all required corporate and regulatory approvals, Hutchison said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse.

Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Richard Pullin

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