BT to buy mobile company EE in £12.5 billion deal
Takeover is a 'major milestone' for the telecoms group, but it is 'too early to speculate' on job losses
Telecoms giant BT has bought Britain's leading mobile operator EE for £12.5 billion, following several weeks of negotiations.
BT's chief executive Gavin Patterson said the deal marked a "major milestone" for the previously state-owned company. He said the takeover would help make BT the "leading converged communications provider in the UK."
The move marks the return of BT to the mainstream mobile market for the first time since it sold O2 in 2001, according to the Financial Times. The takeover will create an integrated operator that cover fixed-line phones, broadband, mobile and TV across the UK.
EE has the UK's biggest, fastest and most developed 4G mobile network as well as the largest 4G customer base of any operator in Europe.
"Joining BT represents an exciting next stage for our company, customers, and people," its Chief Executive Olaf Swantee said in a statement. "Today's announcement will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of the mobile revolution, bringing even more innovation and investment in world leading connectivity for our customers."
BT will pay owners Orange and Deutsche Telekom with a combination of cash and shares. Deutche Telekom will have a 12 per cent stake in the new combined business and a seat on the board, while Orange will hold a 4 per cent stake, as well as £3.4bn in cash, the BBC reports.
A BT spokesperson told The Guardian that it was "too early to speculate" on whether the takeover would lead to job losses, but that the company had a record of hiring people to support new investments.
The deal will be scrutinised by both the Competition and Markets Authority and Ofcom. Subject to approval from the watchdogs and shareholders, it is expected to be finalised by March next year.