Mobile network operator O2 is reportedly in talks with one of Asia's richest men who may buy it for £9 billion.

O2 is Britain's second largest mobile operator as well as sponsor of the England rugby team. This deal would unite O2 and Three according to The Sunday Times.

Telefonica, which owns O2, is in talks with Three's owner, Hutchison Whampoa. It is the Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing who controls Three.

This will follow another phone operator buyout if BT's £12.5 billion acquisition of EE goes through as planned. As operators rush to offer everything in one package - phone, broadband and TV - companies are buying each other out to offer the best package to customers. BT's proposed buyout of EE, for example, followed the launch of its EE TV that the company hopes will replace competitors like YouView, Sky and Virgin under families' TVs in the lounge.

O2 is currently in debt and looking for a way to exit the UK, according to Bloomberg. It reports that O2 may also consider selling off to the public.

Li Ka-shing has already bought Telefonica's Irish business for £650 million to combine it with Three Ireland.

All the businesses involved in the deal have declined to comment at this stage.

READ: It looks like BT is about to buy EE for £12.5bn as it enters exclusive negotiations - PAY MONTHLY PHONES The Samsung Galaxy S10+ is now available on EE who have been awarded the UK’s best network for the fifth year running. RootMetrics tested the four UK networks and EE was faster and more reliable than all of them, with better data performance. Their network has come a long way since they launched in 2012. Back then they had 11 UK cities covered by 4G. Today they cover most of the UK’s land mass, thanks to 19,000 state-of-the-art 4G sites. They’ve got faster, too – from 50Mbps to a maximum speed of 400Mbps. And they’re soon to experience even greater possibilities with the launch of 5G.

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