More rumours that Telefónica wants to sell O2 UK shares

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Initial public offering of O2 UK back in consideration, says news agency

More rumours are surfacing that Telefónica is thinking of selling shares in its O2 operation in the UK.

The Bloomberg news agency is reporting that the Spanish group is looking at an initial public offering (IPO) of O2 shares “as soon as the end of the year”.

But similar rumours have floated around the market for almost a year, ever since the European Commission blocked a plan for Telefónica to sell O2 UK to CK Hutchison’s Three UK.

Plans were derailed after the UK voted by a narrow majority to leave the European Union in June 2016, leading to market uncertainty.

Now Bloomberg is saying the Telefónica has started work on an IPO “and could seek to sell a minority stake in the fourth quarter, depending on market conditions”. The agency said its sources asked “not to be identified because the deliberations are private” and said that “no final decision has been made”. Telefónica refused to comment on the report. 

However, the Spanish operator has previously said it was considering a number of different options of what to do with the UK mobile arm that was originally part of BT.

In October 2016, O2 UK CEO Mark Evans ruled out a flotation until 2017, saying Telefónica would reach a decision then based on market conditions. Telefónica has been attempting to offload its UK arm in a bid to alleviate a €50 billion stockpile of debt.