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Business

Spain's Telefonica Launches Takeover Bid for O2

Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica launched a friendly cash bid of 26.1 billion euros ($31.5 billion) for British group 02 that also operates in Germany, according to a joint statement released on Monday.

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Germany's fourth biggest mobile operator could soon be in Spanish hands

Telefonica, the biggest mobile phone operator in Spain and Latin America, said that the move would "provide enhanced scale by entering two of Europe's largest markets, Germany and the UK, with critical mass." The takeover was expected to be completed in January 2006, the

statement said.

O2 would retain its existing brand and would continue to be based in Britain under the terms of the agreed deal, it added.

O2 was spun off from the BT Group in November 2001 and currently has about 24.6 million mobile phone customers in Britain, Ireland, Germany and the Isle of Man. The group employs about 15,000 people. It is the second-biggest British mobile telephone operator by subscriber numbers, the fourth-biggest operator in Germany, and has a highly profitable business in Ireland.

In August this year, Dutch telecommunications operator KPN and Germany's Deutsche Telekom called off talks over a possible purchase of O2.

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