BT seeks fast track decision on EE deal

BT seeks fast track decision on EE deal

BT has requested a fast track decision on its planned £12.5 billion acquisition of EE.

The company has made a formal submission to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to move directly to a phase two investigation. BT said this would mean a shorter end-to-end review period compared to the CMA’s usual processes. 

The CMA will confirm in three weeks whether it will move directly to a phase two inquiry. BT expects the process and the EE transaction to complete by March 2016.

"BT’s acquisition of EE will be good for consumers, businesses and UK, as well as for BT shareholders, so we are keen to get regulatory clearance. A larger BT will be able to invest and innovate even more than now, something that’s good for jobs and good for customers,” said Gavin Patterson, BT’s group chief executive. 

“The acquisition will lead to greater competition, given our history as a natural and willing wholesaler, enabling other companies to use the networks we own. We provide wholesale access to companies in the broadband market and we are happy to support others who wish to compete in the mobile market as well. The UK is one of the most tightly regulated marketplaces in the world and that will continue to be the case ensuring all companies can compete on a fair basis.”

Rivals such as Vodafone, TalkTalk and Sky have called for BT to be separated from Openreach. Vittorio Colao, Vodafone’s CEO, has said that BT's takeover of EE will have to be monitored closely to prevent market dominance. 

"Exclusivity and lack of access to content could suffocate the market. The potential for BT and other incumbents like Telefonica to squeeze margins for their competitors is very tempting,” he said.