Hong Kong-based firm Hutchison Whampoa, owners of mobile network Three, are in talks to buy rivals O2.

The firm, owned by Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing, is thought to be offering up to £10.25 billion to O2’s current Spanish owners  Telefonica. If the two networks combined, it would create the UK’s largest mobile group, and reduce the number of major operators in the country from four to three, alongside EE and Vodafone. They could however face the wrath of European competition regulators, who would argue less competition makes things worse for the customer.

The potential move follows the merger of T-Mobile and Orange to form EE in 2010, and EE themselves are now talks to be purchased by BT.

Li Ka-shing was named the richest person in Asia by Bloomberg Billionaires Index last year, with a net worth of $31.9 billion (£21 billion).