Economy, Sci & Tech

British Telecom £12.5b EE Takeover Okayed

British Telecom £12.5b EE Takeover Okayed
British Telecom £12.5b EE Takeover Okayed

British Telecom's £12.5 billion takeover of mobile phone firm EE has been cleared after a six-month investigation by the competition regulator.

The Competition and Markets Authority's decision was largely expected following the release of its provisional findings last autumn, Sky News writes.

The watchdog said on Friday that it had taken "extra time" to consider the views of customers and competitors, who had raised fears of rising bills and market dominance in telecoms provision.

But it concluded: "The merger is not expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market or markets in the UK, including in relation to the supply of retail mobile, wholesale mobile, mobile backhaul, wholesale broadband and retail broadband services."

BT, which is seeking to become a major player in the mobile market again since spinning off BT Cellnet in 2001, is the country's largest fixed telecoms business.

EE is the largest mobile provider, with almost a third of the market.

A particular concern for the inquiry was whether a deal might affect the way the merged company provides wholesale services to rivals and whether it would remove incentives to continue to supply them.

But its chair, John Wotton, said: "In supplying services such as backhaul, wholesale mobile or wholesale broadband services, a combined BT/EE would not have both the ability and the incentive to disadvantage competitors such that there would be significant harm to competition."