TalkTalk owners explore options amid telecom consolidation push

(Bloomberg) – The owners of TalkTalk Telecom Group Ltd are exploring strategic options, including a potential sale of the business, according to people familiar with the matter.

Although the company has held talks with potential buyers, no formal offer has been filed for TalkTalk, one of the people said. Lazard Ltd., TalkTalk’s longtime adviser, is working with the company, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private.

TalkTalk, based in Salford, England, is a low-cost internet service provider with more than 4 million customers, according to its latest annual report. It was taken private by investment fund Toscafund Asset Management LLP in 2020 for around 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion), including debt.

US telecommunications giant Comcast Corp, which owns pay-TV and broadband company Sky Ltd., and London-based telephony group Vodafone Group Plc, are considering approaches, Sky News reported on Friday. TalkTalk founder and co-owner Charles Dunstone believes the business is now worth at least £3 billion, according to the report.

Representatives for TalkTalk, Vodafone and Toscafund declined to comment, while representatives for Lazard and Comcast did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Vodafone has been in talks with parties to consolidate its presence in key European markets. In February, Vodafone CEO Nick Read said he was looking for deals in the UK, as well as Spain, Italy and Portugal. Since then, he has missed a deal in Spain and rejected an approach in Italy.

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