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Vodafone And AT&T Are Named As Possible Buyers Of Huawei Handset Stake

Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) and AT&T (NYSE: T) are two of the companies that have been named as possible buyers of a 50 percent stake in Huawei Technologies’ handset division, which was put up for sale last week. Other companies interested in participating are private equity firms Blackstone, TPG and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. It’s estimated that the Chinese company, which also builds wireless network equipment, may raise up to $2 billion on the sale, according to South China Morning Post via Cellular-News. FierceWireless says AT&T and Vodafone would be interested in buying the stake as a defensive move: handset manufacturers, like Nokia (NYSE: NOK), are increasingly marketing directly to consumers, so operators want their own handset. HTC, a Taiwan handset maker, which for a long time provided unbranded handsets to carriers, is also changing course by asserting its own brand and launching its own marketing campaign. The one problem with AT&T and Vodafone owning a part of Huawei would mean it might be more difficult for Huawei to sell to rival operators. It appears Huawei is in a different situation than Motorola (NYSE: MOT), which is also looking to sell its handset business. The private company doesn’t break down its revenues, but the division, which includes mobile phone, laptop, wireless data-card and home routers, is reportedly profitable and wants to increase production to 50 million units a year. Bids are expected to next week.