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BT’s EE buyout gets final approval

EE logoBT’s £12.5 billion (€16.7 billion) buyout of UK mobile operator EE has gained final approval, without conditions, from the British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The green light means the companies will now close the deal on January 29, with EE’s current owners Deutsche Telekom and Orange to receive 12% and 4% of BT’s shares respectively.

BT welcomed the CMA’s decision today, with CEO Gavin Patterson commenting: “We are pleased they have found there to be no significant lessening of competition following an in-depth investigation lasting more than ten months.”

Patterson said that BT and EE combined will be a “digital champion for the UK”, providing investment and innovation to the market.

Deutsche Telekom said that integrating the two companies will provide UK customers with innovative services that “combine the power of fibre broadband with Wi-i and advanced mobile capabilities.”

Deutsche Telekom CEO, Timotheus Höttges, said: “We look forward to supporting BT with relevant expertise to help generate the anticipated value growth of its integrated business model.”

The CMA said that a “range of concerns” were voiced about combining the UK’s largest fixed telecoms and its largest mobile telecoms businesses, but it had decided that the merger is “not expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market or markets in the UK.”

“The retail mobile services market in the UK is competitive, with four main mobile providers and a substantial number of smaller operators. As BT is a smaller operator in mobile, it is unlikely that the merger will have a significant effect. Similarly, EE is only a minor player in retail broadband, so again it is unlikely that the merger will have a significant effect in this market,” said CMA inquiry chair, John Wotton.

BT first agreed its buyout of EE last February and the deal was provisionally approved by the CMA in October.