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The ongoing saga of the Pipex sale entered a new stage today with rumours that Tiscali may buy the company.

Previously the likes of BT, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse had been linked to the sale, but have since pulled out. However Tiscali may succeed where others have failed after Massimo Cristofori, the Sardinian based company’s financial director, revealed that Tiscali are in early talks with its UK competitor.

The news comes hot on the heels of the Pipex announcement that they are offering free broadband first six months if it is ordered in conjunction with their telephone package (similar to TalkTalk).

Currently Pipex has 570,000 UK customers, making it the country’s sixth largest ISP, whereas Tiscali are the third largest and have roughly 1.5 million UK customers. Tiscali are no stranger to acquisitions having recently acquired Homechoice in order to increase their market share.

If Tiscali purchased Pipex, then that would make them the third largest provider in the country behind BT and Virgin Media, and ahead of Carphone Warehouse and Orange.

Mr Cristofori said that preliminary talks with Pipex had been held but no price had yet been considered. He said "Pipex has started the procedure of an eventual sale and it has sent us their dossier". However a break-up looks probable if Tiscali do acquire Pipex with the hosting sector being sold on to the likes of Fasthosts or Iomart.

The ace in Pipex’s pack is definitely its WiMAX license (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) which facilitates high speed mobile broadband; however putting a value on this is extremely difficult as the  technology is yet to be proved in a commercial sector.

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