BT seals EE deal to dominate British telecoms market

BT’s £12.5bn mobile company purchase pleases investors but rivals call for regulator

An EE logo on a shop in central London: BT had spent the last few weeks in exclusive talks with the owners of EE, Orange and Deutsche Telekom, about a deal. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

An EE logo on a shop in central London: BT had spent the last few weeks in exclusive talks with the owners of EE, Orange and Deutsche Telekom, about a deal. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

 

BT has finalised a deal to buy mobile operator EE for £12.5 billion (€16.67bn) and now faces a contested approval process to seal its status as Britain’s dominant communications company.

The deal, bringing together BT’s more than 10 million retail customers and EE’s 24.5 million direct mobile subscribers, will be funded by a £1 billion share issue and £2.4 billion of new debt. It was warmly received by investors who sent its shares to a 14-year high.

But its rivals have already called on regulators to intervene, wary that the fixed-line market leader and main infrastructure provider could abuse its position and reduce competition.

BT had spent the last few weeks in exclusive talks with the owners of EE, Orange and Deutsche Telekom, about a deal. The German and French companies will hold 12 per cent and 4 per cent stakes in BT, respectively.

BT had 38 per cent of the fixed-line market at the end of 2013, while EE had a third of the mobile market, according to Ofcom and EE. – Reuters