Tesco is looking to make a further push into the UK mobile market by buying the stake of Tesco Mobile it does not already own, according to reports.
The grocer has a joint venture with O2 on Tesco Mobile, but it is now looking to take advantage of the fallout from Hutchison’s £10.25bn takeover of O2 by acquiring the remaining stake, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Tesco is also reportedly looking to strike a long-term deal with Hutchison for capacity on the merged 3 and O2 networks.
The plan represents a significant shift by the grocer’s boss, Dave Lewis, who last year looked at a sale of Tesco Mobile as part of a review of non-core assets to address the group’s losses.
Last year Tesco posted the worst results in its history with pre-tax annual losses coming in at £6.4bn, partly due to the fall in property value of its UK stores.
Tesco Mobile is the largest mobile network outside of the four biggest networks – Vodafone, EE, O2 and 3. Research from Ovum estimates Tesco Mobile has 4% of the UK mobile subscriber market.
A Tesco spokesman said: “Tesco is an interested party in the merger review process.
“It is important that any landscape created by the merger process allows challenger brands, such as Tesco Mobile, to deliver the best possible services for UK customers, and champions consumer choice.”