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Swisscom shares on the rise after reports of impending bidding war

Part of Swisscom's mobile phone division could be sold to foreign interests

(Keystone)

Swisscom shares rose 2.8 per cent on Monday after reports that Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom are interested in acquiring part of the company's mobile phone division.

Shares originally rose five per cent when the market opened following the report in the German magazine "Der Spiegel". At the end of the day's trading, Swisscom shares had gained SFr11, reaching a closing price SFr409.

"Der Spiegel" says Vodafone has made the better offer so far.

Swisscom, which was partly privatised two years ago, has been looking for a partner in its mobile phone operation since August when it spun off Mobile Com into a separate stock corporation.

A spokesman for Swisscom, Christian Neuhaus, said the company has held talks with several bidders but he refused to comment on industry rumours. Japan's top cellular operator, NTT DoCoMo, is also thought to be interested.

A stake in Swisscom mobile would allow either Vodafone or Deutsche Telekom to participate in the bidding round for third generation mobile telecommunications licences in Switzerland due to begin on November 13th.

The successful bidder would be able to acquire even more shares in Swisscom Mobile if the Swiss government decides to reduce its own shareholding. It currently holds a 65.5 per cent stake in Swisscom

Swisscom is expected to choose a partner by the end of the month.

Its search for a partner reflects the company's view that it is not big enough to go it alone in the European mobile phone industry.

In August, Swisscom pulled out of the race for a third generation mobile telecommunications licence (UMTS) in Germany. However, some analysts still think that Swisscom may be able to play a key role in the UMTS revolution through its controlling stake in Germany's debitel, which has a customer base of five million.

swissinfo with agencies


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