EE owners Deutsche Telekom and Orange have reportedly held initial talks with BT over the option of selling off their UK business.
Earlier, BT reportedly held talks with Telefonica’s O2 about acquiring a mobile business.
The move had been considered as very optimistic for BT, which will not overpay for market share.
Both the companies said in a joint statement that they were currently ‘evaluating various strategic options which have the potential to create value for EE’s shareholders and strengthen the market position of EE’.
Analysts estimated that EE, which captures 33.8% the British mobile market, could cost BT around $16bn. O2, with a 26.2% market share, could potentially cost close to $14bn.
EE said in a statement: "As one of these options, Deutsche Telekom and Orange are in highly preliminary exploratory discussions with BT, although it is too early to state whether any transaction may occur.
"Deutsche Telekom and Orange will make further announcements if and when appropriate."
In 2001, O2 separated from a heavily indebted BT through a share flotation, while was subsequently acquired by Telefonica in early 2006.