Private equity firms Blackstone, Providence and Cinven are a step closer to buying Belgian mobile operator Base after strategic bidder Telenet dropped out of the runnings.
Telenet was expected to make an offer but has decided against it, leaving the door open for others but potentially depressing bids and stalling the sale altogether.
Base was expected to go for between €1.4bn and €1.8bn, but with Belgium's chief industrial buyer out of the race, owner KPN is less likely to see a price it is willing to sell for.
Blackstone, Providence and Cinven – which have all submitted non-binding offers – now have less competition, but KPN may end the auction altogether now that Telenet has backed out.
Analysts have questioned the €1.4bn-plus price tag and it is unlikely any financial buyer will meet this valuation.
KPN, which is looking to streamline its business and focus on its core offering, has already said that it will only sell up for the right price.