BT shareholders rubber stamp EE takeover


99.73 per cent of investors approved £12.5 billion deal at general meeting held in London today

99.73 per cent of BT shareholders voted to approve the telecoms giant’s agreement to buy EE in a £12.5 billion deal.

The BT board sought approval from investors at a general meeting held in Old Billingsgate in London today, meaning the agreement, which was struck in January, now only needs regulatory approval to go ahead.

That could take up to the end of the year, according to EE CEO Olaf Swantee, who told Mobile News that he was confident the deal will be approved.

Overall, the 99.73 per cent of BT investors who backed the takeover equates to more than five billion BT shares, with 99.77 agreeing to buy back shares that will be owned by EE current owners once the deal is completed.

BT reached definitive terms with EE’s parent companies Orange and Deutsche Telekom in February in a deal that will see each take shares in the former British monopoly. Orange will take a four per cent stake while DT will hold 12 per cent plus take a seat on the board.

EE is the UK’s largest mobile operator with 24.5 million mobile connections, while BT is the biggest broadband and fixed line provider. BT also owns a large amount of the UK’s telecoms infrastructure through subsidiary Openreach.

The combined group will have more than 100,000 employees.

The Competitions and Markets Authority has already began preliminary investigations in to the merger, asking for initial views from rival operators.

It could also face scrutiny from the European Union, with some rival providers already calling on the regulators to separate BT from Openreach completely.