In December 2014, it emerged that BT, the UK's largest provider of broadband and fixed line telephony, was in talks to acquire EE, the country's biggest mobile network. Last February, the two companies agreed terms for the acquisition, and today - almost one year later - the deal has finally been completed.
Earlier this month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gave its final approval for the £12.5 billion deal to proceed, having determined that it was "unlikely that the merger will have a significant effect" on competition in the UK market, given that BT's presence in the mobile space is negligible, and "EE is only a minor player in retail broadband".
BT's purchase of EE creates a true 'quad-play' multimedia giant, as the newly-merged company will compete against the likes of Virgin Media and Sky in offering home and business telephony and broadband, as well as mobile and TV services. Sky has been particularly critical of the deal, claiming in recent weeks that there had been "fundamental flaws" in the CMA's economic analysis of the acquisition.
Nonetheless, the deal is now done, and the business of merging the two companies can now proceed. EE's CEO, Olaf Swantee, confirmed this month that he would step down once the acquisition was completed; he will be replaced by Marc Allera, the carrier's Chief Commercial Officer. EE said that Allera was responsible for "driving one of the fastest uptakes of 4G seen anywhere in the world", helping EE to become Europe's largest 4G carrier last year.
The UK mobile market is set for a further shake-up in the coming months, as another major acquisition is on the cards. Three, part of the Hutchison Whampoa group, is currently awaiting regulatory approval to proceed with its planned purchase of Telefónica's O2 UK operation, which would create a 'super-carrier' with more customers than any other UK mobile network.