HONG KONG, May 14 (Reuters) - Conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, controlled by tycoon Li Ka-shing, confirmed on Thursday it is in talks with Russian telecoms group VimpelCom Ltd about a possible merger of their Italian mobile businesses.
Hutchison said is in “exploratory negotiations” about a merger of Hutchison’s 3 Italia S.p.A. and VimpelCom’s WIND Telecomunicazioni S.p.A. in Italy into an equal joint venture.
Vimpelcom Chief Executive Jean-Yves Charlier said on Wednesday that the two companies were holding talks about an Italian mobile deal.
A deal would combine Wind, Italy’s third-largest mobile network operator, with fourth-placed 3 Italia and cut the number of competing operators to three, as has already happened in Germany, Austria and Ireland, reducing competitive pressures and helping end a long price war.
The transaction remains subject to signing of agreements, achieving satisfactory debt levels and obtaining all required corporate and regulatory approvals, Hutchison said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse. (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Richard Pullin)