LONDON (CNNfn) - The world's largest cellular phone operator Vodafone AirTouch confirmed Monday it's in talks with erstwhile U.S. partner Bell Atlantic about linking up their U.S. mobile phone operations.
Speculation started two weeks ago that the U.K.-based company was exploring ways to rekindle what had previously been a close relationship with Bell.
The partnership hit the rocks after Vodafone scuttled Bell's proposed merger with AirTouch early this year by swooping in with its own winning bid for the U.S. operator.
Now Vodafone is looking for ways to increase its exposure in the U.S. cellular market. The U.K. group is strong in the western United States, following the AirTouch deal, while Bell is a major player in the east.
"Vodafone AirTouch Plc confirms it is continuing to review a number of options for developing its U.S. mobile operations, including a possible alliance with the U.S. mobile network of Bell Atlantic," the company said in a statement.
"Discussions with Bell Atlantic are continuing but there can be no assurance that any agreement will be reached," the statement said.
Vodafone's shares were 2.2 percent higher at 1,270 pence at midday in London. The company could not be reached for comment.
-- from staff and wire reports