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The £10.25 billion takeover of O2 by its smaller rival Three is close to collapse as rumours swirled in Brussels that the latest consolidation in the UK telecoms sector is about to collapse.

No decision has been made, but draft proposals circulating among regulators have triggered speculation about the hard-fought merger.

Three, owned by CK Hutchison, the Asian conglomerate, has fought to alleviate competition concerns over its takeover of O2, which would create the UK’s largest standalone mobile phone network. It has struck deals with Sky, Virgin Media and Tesco to lease much of the proposed combined network to offer their own mobile services and remains in talks with UK broadband the owner of relish over a similar deal.

The merger has had fierce opposition from Ofcom and the Competition Markets Authority who have warned of harm to customers with higher prices and reduced choice.

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