EE's Olaf Swantee: The BT merger is "good for Britain"

Clara Guibourg
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London and the BT Tower
"We’ve hit a tipping point" (Source: Getty)

EE is “very confident” that the £12.5bn deal with BT will be approved, as a competition watchdog’s decision on the takeover draws near.

Olaf Swantee, the telecoms company’s chief executive, said to City A.M. that the merger would be “good for Britain”, following the company’s third quarter results posted on Wednesday:

We’re excited about creating a joint company that ensures both people and businesses can connect anywhere in the UK.

The Competition and Market Authority’s ruling on the merger is just two weeks away. BT’s proposed takeover has been fast tracked to a full investigation, and the authority will be delivering its decision in early November.

The deal has been criticised by companies concerned that it will create a too-dominant telecoms group.

“That’s not true. We’re not changing the market share in fixed-line telecoms or mobile,” said Swantee, adding that customers would be benefitting from better bundling of products that would make things not just more convenient but also cheaper and more reliable:

“It’s good for Britain and good for the market,” he said.

So far, the merger has certainly proved a good omen for EE, as the company returned to sales growth for the first time since 2011 in its July half-year results. In its latest quarterly earnings, underlying sales are up 1.2 per cent year-on-year to hit £1,514m.

The company has also more than doubled its 4G customers in the past year, adding 1.7m new customers in the last quarter alone. The total number of 4G customers is now up to 12.6m.

“We’ve hit a tipping point where we’re generating more revenue from data than from voice and text. There’s definitely a transition going on, and with 4G we’ve accelerated that,” said Swantee.