BT’s £12.5bn takeover of rival EE is expected to get a thumbs up by the UK’s competition watchdog as the two prepare to merge in March.
Anything other than a green light would be highly unexpected as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) prepares to announce its final decision on the deal at 7am tomorrow, having already provisionally cleared it in October, when the regulator said the deal was “not expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market in the UK”.
Analysts are expecting the deal to go through with “zero or very little conditionality attached”, as Will Draper, Mirabaud Securities, said:
However, it will be good to have this rubber stamped so that BT can get on with the process of integrating EE from two perspectives: firstly starting to drive adoption of converged services by its combined customer base, and secondly squeezing out EE’s opex and capex
BT and EE shook hands on the takeover in February last year. The deal, which is set to combine BT’s more than 10m retail customers and EE’s 24.5m mobile subscribers, will be funded through a £1m share issue and £2.4bn of new debt.
Analysts suggest the takeover is likely to impact BT’s Openreach division, which controls the country’s broadband networks, and is currently being probed by watchdog Ofcom. BT’s rivals have argued furiously that the telco giant’s control over the network is a conflict of interests, and Ofcom’s verdict is expected early in the new year.