Orange in talks with Sonera of Finland

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The Independent Online

UK mobile operator Orange is holding talks with Sonera which could lead to a $30bn bid for the Finnish wireless communications company.

UK mobile operator Orange is holding talks with Sonera which could lead to a $30bn bid for the Finnish wireless communications company.

It is possible an acquisition of the Scandinavian group could go ahead before the UK company's flotation later this year. Sonera is believed to have engaged Goldman Sachs, the US investment bank, to seek offers for the group.

The takeover would be the first stage in the creation of a global mobile phone operation under Hans Snook, Orange's chief executive, to rival that of Vodafone AirTouch. When France Telecom announced it had bought Orange earlier this year, it said the UK company would become the basis of an international mobile empire.

Sonera, which has 61 per cent of the Finnish mobile market as well as a strong position in Turkey, is 53 per cent owned by the Finnish government.

Orange has had links with Sonera in the past. Both companies formed a consortium to bid for a third-generation mobile licence in Germany but were prised apart when France Telecom, which has its own third-generation ambitions, bought the UK group.

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