BT makes submission to CMA for approval over EE acquisition

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Telecoms provider has argued the proposed deal will not reduce competition in the mobile or fixed markets and will in fact enhance it

BT has made a formal submission to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as it seeks approval for its proposed £12.5 billion acquisition of EE.

The telecoms provider has said the deal would be good for competition, investment and innovation in the UK, and that consumers and businesses would benefit as a result.

Central to its argument is that the proposed acquisition would not reduce competition in either the mobile or fixed line markets and would in fact enhance it, with the number of UK mobile operators remaining at four. It said the ability of its mobile and landline rivals to compete with BT using its Openreach network would be unaffected.

BT said consumers would also have more choice when it comes to fixed-mobile services and quad play bundles, adding that with Virgin Media and TalkTalk leading the way here, BT’s presence would lead to greater competition and better deals.

It has asked the CMA to proceed directly to a Phase 2 investigation into the proposed acquisition in order to allow the CMA efficiently to consider any complex issues in depth without delay, and offers a shorter end-to-end review period compared to the CMA’s usual processes.

The CMA is expected to confirm in around three weeks whether it will move directly to a Phase 2 inquiry, with the process and the EE transaction complete by the end of March 2016.

BT Group chief executive Gavin Patterson said: “BT’s acquisition of EE will be good for consumers, businesses and UK plc, as well as for BT shareholders, so we are keen to get regulatory clearance.  A larger BT will be able to invest and innovate even more than now, something that’s good for jobs and good for customers.

“The acquisition will lead to greater competition, given our history as a natural and willing wholesaler, enabling other companies to use the networks we own.

“We provide wholesale access to companies in the broadband market and we are happy to support others who wish to compete in the mobile market as well.

“The UK is one of the most tightly regulated marketplaces in the world and that will continue to be the case ensuring all companies can compete on a fair basis.”

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