Macquarie close to dialling up £1.2bn TalkTalk wholesale deal

Macquarie, the Australian banking giant, is closing in on a deal to buy a big stake in the wholesale arm of TalkTalk Telecom, one of Britain's biggest consumer broadband providers.

Sky News has learnt that Macquarie could sign an exclusivity agreement as soon as this week that would pave the way for a transaction with the company founded by Sir Charles Dunstone.

City sources said that Macquarie was proposing to invest £450m into PlatformX, the name given to TalkTalk's wholesale platform, in exchange for a stake of 40% or slightly more.

The proceeds would be partly used to pay down the company's debt pile amid a wider break-up, the sources added.

Other parties, including Digital Bridge, had also looked at buying a stake in PlatformX.

TalkTalk's business arm has already been sold to a syndicate of the group's existing shareholders, while its consumer arm is expected to be put up for sale in the coming years.

A source close to the company denied a weekend report that it was in active discussions to sell the consumer division to Virgin Media O2.

The household broadband and telecoms arm recently added nearly 500,000 customers by buying Shell's former consumer business from new owner Octopus Energy.

VMO2 had previously explored a full takeover of TalkTalk, although those talks did not progress amid concerns about the views of competition regulators.

Macquarie and TalkTalk declined to comment.