Bid talks on for £8bn T-Mobile and Orange

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The Independent Online

Tom Alexander, the former chief executive of the Everything Everywhere mobiles group, has begun talks with one of its parent companies, France Telecom, over launching an £8bn takeover of the Orange and T-Mobile phones giant.

It emerged yesterday that Mr Alexander, right, is attempting to stitch together the financing for a deal which would be one of the biggest private equity takeovers ever in the UK. He has the financial backing of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Apax, the two private equity houses, who have pledged to chip in about £3bn.

Reports later said Mr Alexander had held talks with France Telecom a few weeks ago for what sources told Bloomberg was an "informal discussion". Negotiations remain at an early stage and could come to nothing, although Mr Alexander is keen to return to the company he left last year and take on arch-rivals Vodafone and Telefonica's O2.

Vodafone's former chief executive Arun Sarin, one of KKR's senior advisers, has also been involved in the planning stages.

Everything Everywhere was formed in 2010 from the merger of France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom's UK operations – Orange and T-Mobile respectively. That deal was overseen by Mr Alexander, highlighting how well he knows the parent companies.

However, financing is all-important, particularly as some analysts have said £8bn would not be enough to sway the French and German owners. Several bankers pointed out that now is not a good time to be selling mobile companies with their stock market valuations so low.

Reports said a buyout would not mean that current chief executive Olaf Swantee would have to quit.

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