Monday 24 November 2014 10:00 am

BT share price jumps as it confirms it wants to buy O2 back from Telefonica

Shares in BT had risen 3.6 per cent to 393.9p in mid-afternoon as it confirmed it is in talks with Telefonica to buy its O2 UK mobile business. 

In a statement to the stock exchange this morning, the company said all discussions are at a "highly preliminary stage", adding that it is "continuing" to develop plans for its own mobile networks.

BT demerged O2 – then known as BT Cellnet – along with a number of its other businesses in 2001. In 2005, it was bought by Spanish operator Telefonica for £17.7bn.

The company said it had "received expressions of interest from shareholders in two UK mobile network operators, of which one is O2, about a possible transaction in which BT would acquire their UK mobile business".

After BT span off O2, it was quickly seen as a terrible strategic decision as mobile became increasingly popular among consumers. In recent years, the company has been attempting to widen its market, with a renewed focus on high-speed broadband, plus a recently-launched pay-TV offering which has been regarded as fairly successful.

In 2013, O2 sold its broadband operation to Sky for £200m.

Shares in Telefonica had risen 1.4 per cent in mid-afternoon trading.