Hong Kong billionaire Li's Hutchison offers $15 billion for Telefonica's UK mobile business

Features Associated Press

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's flagship company is offering about $15 billion for European mobile phone operator Telefonica's British business.

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Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. said in a statement Friday that it has been in "exclusive negotiations" with Telefonica SA over the past several weeks for the potential purchase of O2 UK.

Hutchison said its offer includes 9.25 billion pounds ($13.9 billion) in cash plus up to another 1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) in deferred interest payments.

The sprawling ports-to-retail global conglomerate controlled by Li, who is Asia's richest individual, already owns British mobile operator Three.

The deal comes after the 86-year-old Li announced a reorganization of Hutchison into two new listed companies in an attempt to increase shareholder value.