Telefonica sells Irish unit 02

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MADRID (AP) — Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica says it has sold its Irish division, 02, to Hutchison Whampoa in a bid to reduce debt.

In a statement Monday, Telefonica SA says it sold the 100 percent stake to Hutchison Whampoa's Irish subsidiary, Three Ireland, for 850 million euros ($1.12 billion).

The price includes an initial 780 million euros and a deferred payment of 70 million euros dependent on agreed financial objectives being met.

Three said the acquisition of O2 will boost its market share to 37.5 percent, second to Vodafone, and bring subscriber numbers to 2 million.

Telefonica says the sale would bring it closer to its goal of reducing net debt to below 47 billion euros in 2013.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

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