BT in talks to buy EE for £12.5bn
Telecoms giant BT is in exclusive talks to buy EE - Britain's largest mobile network group.
It said the period of exclusivity would last 'several weeks' to enable it to carry out the necessary negotiations.
'The proposed acquisition would enable BT to accelerate its existing mobility strategy,' it said in a statement.
A takeover of EE would create a communications giant covering fixed-line phones, broadband, mobile and TV.
According to Citigroup, EE holds 33.8% of the UK mobile market by revenue.
In November, BT said it was in talks to buy either EE, jointly owned by Deutsche Telekom and Orange, or O2 which is owned by Spanish firm Telefonica.
EE's owners - France's Orange and Germany's Deutsche Telekom - put plans for an initial public offering of EE on hold this year.
BT spun off its own mobile network, BT Cellnet, now 02, in 2002. In 2005 it was acquired by Spain's Telefonica for £17.7bn.