Vodafone in talks to merge UK arm with CK Hutchison's Three -FT

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(Reuters) -Vodafone Group Plc is in talks to merge its UK operations with Three UK, which is owned by Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd, the Financial Times reported https://on.ft.com/39UVwse on Wednesday, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The exact structure under discussion could not be learnt, the report said.

Vodafone declined to comment. Three UK did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment outside of business hours.

The move comes as Vodafone faces pressure from Europe's largest activist fund Cevian Capital to simplify its portfolio, enhance its strategy in key markets and boost returns.

The telecom group's Chief Executive Nick Read had said in February the company was pursuing mergers with rivals in multiple European markets, spurred on by more favourable signals from regulators who have realised the value of network investment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Reporting by Anirudh Saligrama in BengaluruEditing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang)