LONDON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. telecommunications giant AT&T Inc., said Monday it had no immediate plans to buy Britain's Vodafone Group.
Speculation that AT&T was ready to make Vodafone an offer intensified last week, when an executive in the telecommunications field said that AT&T was doing preliminary legal work to prepare for a bid, the Wall Street Journal reported.
AT&T's statement Monday was made in response to a request from the U.K. Takeover Panel. By stating to the regulator that AT&T was not making bid soon, the company is barred from making a bid for Vodafone for six months.
The company's denial that it had immediate plans to make an offer failed to put the rumors to rest.
"The AT&T statement has further fueled the talk that it plans a bid for Vodafone in the second half of the year," the executive told the Journal.
AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson has said in meetings with investors that he is interested in the company making a major move into the European market.
Last Tuesday, Stephenson had dinner with the European Commission's top telecommunications regulator Neelie Kroes.
At the dinner, Stephenson made it known he was interested in making in-roads into the European market, but there were few direct details discussed, sources told the Journal.