Hutchison Whampoa chairman Li Ka-shing revealed today that he is in talks with "many" interested parties over the acquisition of 3 Italia.
Not surprisingly, the Hong Kong firm's top man declined to elaborate, leaving the industry to speculate on the identities of the would-be buyers.
Once source hinted to us that Telefonica could be in the frame, since the Spanish telco could integrate Hutchison's various European 3G businesses into O2 without significant overlap. But Li Ka-shing's announcement seems to refer solely to 3 Italia, and it is in Italy where Telefonica already has a presence through its stake in TIM parent Telecom Italia.
Some have suggested a private equity deal could be on the cards, although private equity investment in telecoms seems to have dried up of late.
We predict Italian broadband operator Fastweb is likely to be in the frame, since it has recently brokered an MVNO deal with 3 Italia.
There are many more options. Why not post a comment or drop us a line and share your views? For more information on the 3 Italia talks and Hutchison's 2007 results announcement that was also published today, take a look on Total Telecom, where all news is now free for seven days after publication.