Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BT Paying for Stake in German Company

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BT Paying for Stake in German Company

Article excerpt

LONDON -- Once a state-owned phone monopoly, British Telecommunications PLC stands to become a pan-European power of the wireless era by paying some $6.7 billion to double its stake in Germany's Viag Interkom.

BT said yesterday it has agreed to buy out its German partner, E.On AG, and increase its holding in Viag Interkom to 90 percent from 45 percent. Analysts said the move would lift BT, Britain's largest fixed-line phone business, into the upper tier of competitors in Europe's mobile phone industry.

BT's decision paid dividends almost immediately: Viag Interkom emerged a winner yesterday in an auction for a license to operate so-called third-generation wireless technology in Germany, Europe's biggest phone market.

This technology will enable customers to download video images and roam the Internet on their handsets. Viag Interkom secured its license with a winning bid of $7.7 billion.

Viag Interkom has a fixed-line business and also ranks as the smallest of Germany's four mobile operators, with about 2 million customers. …

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