Japan’s largest mobile operator NTT DoCoMo Inc has signaled its interest in a partnership with mmO2 Plc, but only if the fourth placed UK operator adopts i-mode, DoCoMo’s data service.
mmO2 has been the subject of intense takeover speculation after takeover talks between it and Royal KPN NV, the largest Dutch telephone company, collapsed last week. This speculation was renewed after the president of DoCoMo, Keiji Tachikawa, told the Financial Times that the operator would be interested if mmO2 adopted i-mode.
We are prepared to negotiate with any operator which will do i-mode, said Tachikawa. He added that DoCoMo would first have to consult 3 UK, its current UK partner, regarding any new partnership.
DoCoMo’s announcement that it would consider alternative partnership deals with a UK operator signals its irritation at fifth placed operator 3, which has so far refused to adopt the technology.
Meanwhile, rumors of 3 launching a bid for mmO2 have been denied after a spokesperson for its Hong-Kong based parent, Hutchison Whampoa, said it was not looking at 2G operators in Europe.
KPN is no doubt keeping a very close eye on developments, after leaving the door open for another mmO2 bid after it reserved the right to make an offer for the operator if a rival suitor emerged.
DoCoMo does have an alliance with KPN, and has more than 1 million KPN subscribers in Germany and Holland that use services based on i-mode.
A number of other companies are thought to be interested in acquiring mmO2 (formerly BT Cellnet). These include European operators Telefonica Moviles, Telecom Italia Mobile and even former parent BT Group Plc, as well as NTT DoCoMo, and Hutchison Whampoa.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire