Shell, the FTSE-100 oil behemoth, is among the bidders vying to gain control of the Post Office’s telecoms arm in a deal that would transform the size of its broadband customer base.
Sky News has learnt that Shell, which took control of the retail energy and broadband supplier First Utility in 2018, is one of three remaining bidders for the Post Office business.
Sky, the immediate parent company of Sky News, and TalkTalk Telecom Group, which is in the process of agreeing a takeover led by one of its largest shareholders, are also said to be competing in the auction.
The Post Office’s telecoms arm has roughly 500,000 customers, and is expected to command a price-tag of close to £100m.
Sources close to the process insisted on Thursday that Nick Read, the Post Office chief executive, would not sell the division unless it secured an attractive price for it.
The bid from Shell Energy Retail – the new name of First Utility – adds an unexpected presence to the auction.
Shell has roughly 130,000 UK broadband customers, as well as 870,000 domestic energy accounts, by virtue of the 2018 takeover deal.
It also provides a range of smart home services such as electric vehicle charging, and appears to have set its sights on becoming a significant player in the residential utilities market.
The Post Office, which is conducting the telecoms auction through PJT Partners, is also exploring options for its insurance business.
Shell, the Post Office, Sky and TalkTalk declined to comment.