UK -  Telecoms group Cable & Wireless (C&W) is in the early stages of talks to sell off its £2bn (€2.86bn) UK pension fund, IPE has learnt.

The company has previously stated it would be looking to decouple its profitless British arm from its international business within the next two years.

Officials and pension funds trustees have declined to confirm there are active talks going on, but an insider told IPE a buyout is being considered.

A C&W spokeswoman commented: "As we have said before, we are actively managing our pension fund.That means that we, along with the pension trustees, talk to advisers all the time. It doesn't mean that a pension fund transaction will happen."

The group's UK pension fund had a £43m IAS19 surplus at its last report, though it is thought Cable & Wireless would probably have to make a one-off payment to have the fund taken off its hands by a third party.

This latest news comes as a seven-day extension is about to expire in buyout firm Pensions Insurance Corporation's bid to acquire telecoms group Telent and its £3bn pension scheme.

PIC sought the extension after the UK's Pension Regulator (TPR) intervened in the deal by appointing three independent trustees to the scheme - a move made after the pension fund trustees had raised concerns with TPR about the possible takeover.

Similarly, a deal could be held up by TPR's intervention in the case of C&W should it decide to opt for a buyout, however, officials at the regulatory body declined to comment.