"The German telecommunications regulator on Tuesday announced that 12 companies or consortia had applied to bid for universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS) licences this summer.
"The groups include the four domestic mobile operators and their owners or backers (in brackets): T-Mobil (Deutsche Telekom); Mannesmann Mobilfunk (Vodafone); E-Plus (KPN of the Netherlands); and Viag Interkom (Viag, British Telecommunications, and Telenor of Norway).
"The other candidates are Debitel (Swisscom); Talkline (Tele Danmark, SBC International); Mobilcom (France Telecom); Auditorium Investments Germany (Hutchison Whampoa); Vivendi of France; WorldCom Wireless, a subsidiary of MCI WorldCom; Group 3G (Telefonica of Spain, Sonera of Finland and UK mobile operator Orange); and Netz AG. The telecoms office would not on Tuesday reveal the owners of Netz AG, which is a German publicly owned company.
"The telecoms office will be examining whether the 12 candidates have the experience and resources to be UMTS operators, and those accepted will be invited to an auction orientation session prior to bidding, due to begin between the end of July and the beginning of August.
"The German government plans to issue between four and six licences in an auction expected to raise about DM100bn (E51bn, $46.6bn).
"A similar auction in the UK last week brought 22bn ($34.3bn) to the treasury.