EE head Olaf Swantee teamed up with BT boss Gavin Patterson to make the case for the BT/EE merger, presenting a report on the benefits of the deal.
Swantee used the report launch to hit back at ‘self-interested’ rivals that look to stop the network’s pending BT deal, claiming that they fail to look towards the future. He said: ‘These competitors only want to put up roadblocks, while we want to build motorways for the UK. They prefer to stand still and sweat their existing assets rather than invest in the future.’
The two executives announced that BT’s acquisition of EE, pending regulatory approval, will create a ‘digital champion’, one which Swantee claims the UK will need to ‘invest in 5G and ultrafast broadband’. He explained that as ‘the most digitally hungry country in Europe’, the UK will benefit from the investment the deal will bring. He compared the merger to that of T-Mobile and Orange, claiming that integrating the companies unlocked the necessary investment to launch EE in the UK.
Patterson added that combining BT and EE will be the best way to help put ‘clear blue water’ between the UK and its international competitors. He said that companies will benefit from the integrated company with ‘high regulated equal access to Openreach’s network and wholesale access to EE’s mobile network’.
The announcement comes weeks after the CMA fast-tracked the pending acquisition to a Phase 2 investigation, and follows comments made by the EU competition commissioner that consolidation will not lead to increased investment. While the BT and EE deal does not hinge on EU approval, both executives recognised that significant investment will be required in order to address the growth in data usage.
The executives made their announcements at the launch of a new report which identifies five key trends that a BT and EE integrated company will be able to address. The trends include: increasing demand and speed of mobile data, putting pressure on businesses to enhance digitisation, encourage the Internet of Things by placing demands on the networks and addressing the change and ‘rising uncertainty’ in the industry.