BT to submit EE takeover to watchdog

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Submission to CMA expected to focus on mobile airwaves, connecting masts and wholesaling

BT is expected to this week make its case to competition watchdogs that its £12.5 billion takeover of EE should be approved.

The deal, which was confirmed in February and approved by shareholders last week, will be formally submitted to the Competition and Markets Authority, according to reports in the Financial Times.

BT is expected to claim that returning to the mobile market will benefit customers by allowing it to offer bundles services of mobile, TV, fixed line and broadband, known as quad-play. The telecoms giant launched its own MVNO, BT Mobile, running on EE’s network, in March 25.

Rivals such as Sky, TalkTalk, and Vodafone have already expressed concern that the proposed deal will boost EE’s financial power even further.

One potential challenge that the merger faces is EE’s mast-sharing agreement with rival operator Three, who is set to buy O2 in a £10.25 billion deal.

The combined entity will hold more than 40 per cent of UK spectrum dedicated to mobile services, more than is currently deemed acceptable under Ofcom regulations.

The reports suggest BT will hand in hundreds of pages of documents to make its case on why the merger will benefit the UK telecoms market.

The filing will initiate the lengthy process to assess any potential antitrust issues caused by the acquisition. EE CEO Olaf Swantee said that this could take until the end of this year.

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