O2 could become a public company after merger with Three

Jessica Morris
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O2 boss Ronan Dunne is due to step down after the deal has completed (Source: Getty)

O2 could become a public company after Hong Kong investment group CK Hutchison completes its acquisition of the network operator from Telefónica.

CK Hutchison, owned by Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, plans to merge O2 with its three network subject to regulatory approval. The deal has stoked competition concerns, because it would mean mobile tariffs in the UK were set by just three huge providers.

Canning Fok, co-group managing director of CK Hutchison, told the Financial Times that an initial public offering (IPO) of the combined £15bn business has been talked about with external investors.

Read more: O2 boosts its customers and revenue at the start of 2015

"There is a liquidity requirement by our investor group and one way to provide will be an IPO, which we will support," Fok said in the interview.

"Its only reasonable that you give yourself some time. No one is a magician ... you need to work on business, and get the customer happy."

He added that the combined UK business would be run by Three's current chief executive, David Dyson, with O2 boss Ronan Dunne due to step down after the deal has completed.

O2 reported sales of £1.3bn in the first quarter of 2015, up 1.1 per cent from the same time last year. There were also 133,000 new mobile contracts for the firm in the quarter, and 5,000 new pre-pay customers.

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