Telefonica and billionaire John Malone’s Liberty Global are exploring a combination of their UK operations, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The companies are discussing a potential deal to bring together Telefonica’s O2 mobile unit and Liberty Global’s Virgin Media business, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. If they are able to reach an agreement, a transaction could be announced as soon as next week, the people said.

Telefonica is scheduled to announce its first-quarter earnings on May 7th. No final decisions have been made, and talks could still fall apart or be delayed, the people said.

A representative for Telefonica declined to comment. A spokesperson for Liberty Global couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Liberty Global also operates the Virgin Media brand in the Republic and it is not clear what the implications for the Irish business might be from a combination in the UK with Telefonica, which sold its O2 subsidiary in Ireland in 2013 to Hutchison Whampoa. – Bloomberg



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