UK watchdog approves BT/EE deal

28 October 2015 |


The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally approved British incumbent BT’s £12.5 billion acquisition of mobile operator EE.

The deal will create a communications giant that delivers fixed-line, broadband, mobile and TV services, and EE’s additional 24.5 million mobile subscribers will more than treble BT’s retail customer base.

“We recognise that this is a merger which is important to many consumers and businesses,” Jon Wotton, inquiry chair at the CMA, said in a statement.

Some players in the industry have raised concerns over BT’s control of the market as a result of the merger, but the CMA said that BT and EE operator in largely separate areas, with BT focussed on fixed communications services and EE strong in the mobile sector.

“We have heard a number of concerns from competitors,” Wotton said. “After a detailed investigation, our provisional view is that these concerns will not translate into a competition problem in practice.”

However, calls from the UK market for BT to be split from its broadband unit, Openreach, have yet to be decided upon by communications authority Ofcom.

The CMA said that Openreach has only been considered “to the extent it is relevant to issues arising from the merger. We are aware of concerns voiced recently about Openreach and wider concerns are currently being considered by Ofcom in their review of the whole telecommunications market”.

BT finalised plans to acquire EE from Deutsche Telekom and Orange in February this year, and later in May, urged the CMA to speed up its decision-making.