Analysts: EE deal could limit BT’s football buying power

BT to acquire EE for £12.5bn?

BT to acquire EE for £12.5bn?

BT’s prospective £12.5bn acquisition of EE may restrict its ability to bid for games in the English football rights auction, according to Ovum analysts Matt Howett and James Robinson.

In a joint statement issued by the leading industry analyst firm, Howett and Robinson also emphasise that competition issues surrounding a deal would be handled by European competition authorities, as opposed to UK regulator Ofcom –

“On the face of it, things look promising and the green light is likely to be given, albeit with some concessions. Recent remedies imposed in Germany and Ireland came about because the number of mobile operators was being reduced, however this transaction preserves a four player market in the UK. That said, BT was particularly successful in the 2013 4G spectrum auction acquiring spectrum at 2.6GHz and regulators are likely to focus on the combined entity’s overall spectrum portfolio.”

The statement went on to examine the effect the deal could have on the emergent UK quad-play market. “The move would reduce a quad-play rival in the UK, but EE’s TV service has only been launched recently, so competition would not be damaged in practical terms,” the analysts point out. “Spectrum could be a concession as the merged firm’s 2.6GHz holding would be large, but O2 and 3 could be interested in this as they currently don’t have anything in that band. The deal also shows that BT is prepared to spend to get itself into a good position for the future.”

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