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EE buyout given green light by BT shareholders

Friday, May 1st 2015 by Dean Reilly

The proposed purchase of mobile network EE has been given the go-ahead by BT shareholders, it has been announced.

The news, revealed at the BT group general meeting, showed that shareholders voted 99.55% in favour of the acquisition of the mobile operator. 62.8% of those eligible to vote turned out.

Just 0.23% voted against the resolution.

If approved by regulators, the purchase of EE would see BT become the UK's biggest fixed line and mobile operator, adding an additional 24.5m customers who currently have contracts with EE.

BT chief executive Gavin Patterson revealed a timeline of the proposed purchase in a presentation at the general meeting.

He said the company aims to complete the deal by 30 September 2015 – if the purchase receives the approval of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The CMA, a non-ministerial government department, will decide if the proposed purchase introduces the risk of any anti-competitive practices within the telecoms sector.

If the CMA decides that a more detailed review is required, then the completion of the deal could be delayed until 31 March 2016.

'Closer scrutiny'

BT revealed that it had also been in talks to buy O2 from owner Telefonica, before embarking on the attempted EE acquisition.

Cable.co.uk previously reported that, according to John Delaney of market analyst company IDC, the proposed purchase of EE had raised fears of “undue market power”.

He said: “Clearly the regulatory authorities are going to take closer scrutiny of this deal to make sure that it doesn’t give BT undue market power.

“They would have scrutinised the O2 deal but the EE deal is going to attract more diligence, I think.”

Mr Delaney concluded: “There’s a lot of inponderables. What I would say is, as certain as anything can be certain, is that BT will acquire a mobile operator.

“And at the moment EE clearly looks favourable."

The mobile network was recently named the best provider of mobile broadband at three major London airports by data analysts RootMetrics.

EE also revealed this month that it was on track to having 14m 4G customers by the end of 2015, after adding an additional 1.7m new 4G customers in the first three months of the year.

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