BT Renames U.K. Wireless Operations ‘O2’

BT Renames U.K. Wireless Operations ‘O2’

Steve Gold

British Telecom [NYSE:BTY] has announced its BT Cellnet and BT Wireless operations will be rebranded “O2” following an IPO of its wireless operations later this year.

The rebranding exercise will take effect next spring and will see the BT Cellnet brand – in use since the mid-1980s – disappear almost entirely.

In parallel with the rebranding plans, BT says it now values its wireless operations at around 10 billion British pounds ($16 billion) – just half of what the telco tentatively was valuing the business at just a year ago.

The O2 name change will prepare the way for the wireless carrier’s mass rollout of third-generation (3G) services in late 2002 or early 2003, said Peter Erskine, BT Wireless’ chief executive, at press conference in London Monday.

Meanwhile, today’s Financial Times says that BT Wireless will only take on half of its expected debt from parent company BT when it IPOs later this year.

The Financial Times says this will see the operation shoulder around a billion pounds of debt – roughly half the amount expected.

BT is making no comment on the FT report, although BT Wireless has scheduled an announcement on its IPO plans for Wednesday.

At the press conference in London late Monday, Erskine told reporters that, “because we are de-merging, we have found it necessary to change our name; one which would make no reference to BT.”

Like its rival Orange, part of the France Telecom group, the O2 branding serve several countries, including BT Wireless operations in the U.K., Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands.

BT’s Web site is at .

Reported by, .

12:45 CST Reposted 12:58 CST

(20010904/Press Contact: BT Press Operations +44-20-7356-5369 /WIRES TELECOM, BUSINESS/)

COPYRIGHT 2001 Newsbytes News Network

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group