Swantee confident BT/EE merger will get preliminary approval in November

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Competition and Markets Authority set to make preliminary ruling on £12.5 billion deal within the next two weeks

EE CEO Olaf Swantee is confident the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) will approve its merger with BT during a preliminary ruling in two weeks.

BT announced in February it had agreed to acquire EE for £12.5 billion with the deal expected to be completed in March 2016, subject to all regulatory approval.

Speaking to Mobile News following EE’s Q3 financial results, Swantee said he was confident that the CMA would support the acquisition because it “benefits” UK consumers and businesses.

“We expect the preliminary recommendation from the Competition Markets Authority in the next two weeks,” the EE CEO explained. “After that there is still quite some time and we don’t expect to start integration until after Q1 next year.

“We except the CMA to support the project because we don’t remove an operator form the market so we’re not reducing competition in the mobile space.

BT has faced strong opposition to the acquisition from its rivals, who claim the deal will harm competition. The combined BT and EE will be the biggest provider of fixed line, broadband and mobile if the deal is approved.

Mobile rivals such as Vodafone, and fixed line competitors such as Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have all challenged the CMA to force BT to separate from its infrastructure arm OpenReach, or reject the acquisition.

Swantee argued that deals that combine fixed line and mobile providers had proven successful in other countries, and the UK is one of the last markets in Europe where such a combination is possible.

“The UK is one of the last countries where you can get these kinds of combinations of mobile and fixed providers,” he added. “Convergence is already very much a trend in most other markets and this has brought benefits to consumers and business customers.”

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