The UK regulator has approved BT’s takeover of the UK’s largest mobile network EE.
The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) decision to sanction the deal ‘unconditionally without remedies’ allows BT to finalise its acquisition of the Orange and Deutsche Telecom joint venture.
There have been signs of the growing confidence that approval of the merger was imminent when EE announced that CEO Olaf Swantee would step down following completion of the deal and would be replaced by Marc Allera.
Blow for opponents
Approval from the CMA comes as a major blow for opponents of the deal. In the past couple of months there have been a number of public appeals by those in the mobile market asking for the UK regulators to delay the approval of the takeover.
The Federation of Communications services called for its members to write to the CMA to share their fears with the CMA about the impact of the BT takeover of EE. The industry body also wrote to the government to ask for intervention in the deal, a request that was subsequently rejected.
At one stage the Prime Minister was asked by MVNO The Phone Co-op to take a stance on the deal. A request that also failed to generate a reaction.
Reacting with delight to the CMA’s approval Gavin Patterson BT’s CEO said: ‘It is great news that the CMA has approved our acquisition of EE. We are pleased they have found there to be no significant lessening of competition following an in-depth investigation lasting more than ten months.
‘The combined BT and EE will be a digital champion for the UK, providing high levels of investment and driving innovation in a highly competitive market. I have no doubt that consumers, businesses and communities will benefit as we combine the power of fibre broadband with the convenience of leading edge mobile services. I look forward to welcoming EE into the BT family’.
The deal will close at the end of January sees Deutsche Telekom take twelve per cent of BT shares and Orange take four per cent. A representative of Deutsche Telekom will also be appointed to the BT Board.