Li Ka-shing’s Record $15 Billion O2 Buyout Caps Europe Turnaround

Deal would cement Hutchison as one of Europe’s top wireless providers

HONG KONG— Li Ka-shing’s $15 billion purchase of British cellphone operator O2 caps a reversal of fortune for the Hong Kong tycoon’s European telecommunications business, which spent almost a decade in the doldrums.

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., a conglomerate run by Mr. Li, intends to pay £9.25 billion ($13.74 billion) in cash to buy O2 from Telefónica SA of Spain, and as much as £1 billion later if the combination of O2 with Three, Hutchison’s existing British carrier, meets cash-flow targets, according to a Telefónica regulatory filing on Tuesday.

The deal would seal Mr. Li’s telecom and infrastructure company as one of Europe’s top wireless providers. The acquisition would more than triple Three’s U.K. subscribers to 34 million and create the country’s biggest mobile provider.

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