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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Japan's Docomo Eyes U.K.'s Orange

TOKYO -- Japan's NTT Docomo, the world's second-biggest mobile phone firm, is looking at investments such as Britain's Orange PLC to step into the European market, but it will likely settle for minority stakes, analysts say.

Over the weekend, Britain's Sunday Business newspaper, quoting investment bankers, reported that NTT Docomo is mulling a $35 billion bid for Britain's mobile phone operator Orange once the company is spun off by Vodafone AirTouch PLC.

News that Docomo's future could be Orange drove the Japanese carrier's shares up 2.13 percent to 3.84 million yen ($35,700) in Tokyo, despite a vaguely worded Docomo statement that did not confirm or deny the report.

"We are mulling broad investment opportunities in Asia and Europe, but we are not at a stage where we can make any official comment," a Docomo spokesman said.

Analysts say the chances are small that Docomo would seek an outright acquisition of Orange.