BT board reportedly discusses mobile operator takeovers but has not yet made its decision
BT hopes to make a decision on whether to acquire O2 or EE within the next ten days, according to a report, which says the company’s board discussed potential acquisitions at a meeting earlier this week.
Reuters says the meeting was a regularly scheduled event and not a specially arranged discussion but BT has still not made a final decision as to which mobile operator it wishes to pursue.
It was confirmed last month that was in talks with both EE and O2 last month and is keen to make a major push into the mobile market despite exiting the sector nearly ten years ago with the sale of O2 to Telefonica.
BT’s interest in both companies is indicative of the growing trend of consolidation in the UK communications market, with major firms all seeking to offer ‘quad-play’ packages of mobile, landline, broadband and television services to increase revenue and foster customer loyalty.
The company already offers mobile services to businesses and has plans to offer consumer plans next year using its network of Wi-Fi hotspots and EE’s cellular infrastructure through a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) arrangement.
O2 would be a cheaper target and negotiations would be easier as it has just one parent company, Telefonica, which is keen to sell to cut debt and avoid being dragged into the ‘quad play wars’. Reuniting the operator with BT could some emotional appeal too.
An EE takeover would unite the UK’s largest fixed and mobile communications company, but would be more expensive and would involve dealing with both Orange and Deutsche Telekom, each of whom have a 50 percent stake.
BT declined to respond to TechWeekEurope’s requests for comment.
BT’s activity has resulted in a number of other companies being linked with takeovers. Vodafone is rumoured to be interested in Virgin Media owner Liberty Global, Three is apparently interested in hijacking the deal for O2 and Sky is also reported to be examining its options.
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