Telefonica of Spain has reportedly set a deadline for companies interested in acquiring its mobile phone unit in the Republic, O2 Ireland. According to the Irish Independent newspaper, the Madrid-based group is encouraging would-be bidders to submit their applications for the Irish carrier within the month. Possible bids are likely to emerge from former monopoly operator Eircom, domestic cableco UPC Ireland and Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, which already owns another Irish mobile operator, 3 Ireland. With each of the three groups having been supplied with sale documents, Telefonica is hoping to raise more than EUR700 million (USD925 million) from the sale of O2 – Ireland’s second largest mobile carrier with a 29.2% share of the market at end-March 2013, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database.
Telefonica is mulling options to trim its not inconsiderable debt to under EUR47 billion by the end of this year. To date it has reportedly divested 40% of its Central American assets in treasury stock in 2013.