British Telecom has finalised a deal to buy mobile phone operator and internet service provider EE – Everything Everywhere as it used to be known.
BT, the former state-owned phone monopoly is paying 12.5 billion pounds, (16.7 billion euros) to become Britain’s dominant communications company.
As part of the deal the sellers – France’s Orange and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom – will get a 12 percent and a four percent stake in BT, respectively.
This brings together BT’s more than 10 million retail customers and EE’s 24.5 million direct mobile subscribers.
Other UK telecoms firms, such as Talk Talk, are calling on competition regulators to block the deal complaining that that the fixed-line market leader and main infrastructure provider could abuse its position and reduce competition.
BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said he expected the deal to be scrutinised in Britain, rather than by European regulators in Brussels, and he did not expect competition authorities to impose stringent remedies.
Britain would still have four mobile networks, he stressed, adding BT would be no different than European peers like Orange, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica, with both fixed and mobile networks.
“Fundamentally we believe this will pass merger control, and we will be pushing for that very quickly,” he told reporters.
However, there will be only three players if Hutchison Whampoa completes a 10.25 billion pound (13.7 billion euro) deal to buy Telefonica’s 02 business.