UK competition watchdog provisionally clears BT's £12.5bn EE gobble

Briskly waves through telco takeover bid


BT's planned £12.5bn merger with EE has provisionally been given the greenlight by Blighty's Competitions and Markets Authority.

The regulator said this morning that the proposed acquisition, which is expected to be completed by March next year, was "not expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market in the UK".

Its chair of the inquiry, John Wotton, said:

We provisionally think that the retail mobile market in the UK, with 4 main mobile providers and a substantial number of smaller operators, is competitive.

As BT is a smaller operator in mobile, it is unlikely that the merger will have a significant effect on competition.

By the same token, it is unlikely that the merger will have a significant effect on competition in the retail broadband market, where EE is only a minor player.

The competition inquiry has been briskly waved through by the watchdog, after BT successfully lobbied the CMA in July to hasten its investigation into the proposed multi-billion pound slurp.

BT was chuffed to have cleared the watchdog's hurdle. The former state monopoly boss Gavin Patterson said in a canned statement:

We're pleased that the CMA has provisionally approved BT's acquisition of EE.

The combined BT and EE will be good for the UK, providing investment and ensuring consumers and businesses can benefit from further innovation in a highly competitive market.

Competition concerns had been raised about the impact the proposed merger could have on the mobile market. Both BT and EE provide wholesale services – including mobile backhaul and broadband services – to rival ISPs in the UK.

The CMA was split on competition concerns with the wholesale mobile market. But the watchdog said that "a finding of SLC [substantial lessening of competition] requires a two-thirds majority of the group, and therefore no SLC has also been found in relation to that market."

A summary of the CMA's provisional findings can be viewed here (PDF) and the regulator is promising to publish a full report later this week.

The watchdog added that it would release its final report into the proposed BT/EE merger in January 2016, some 10 weeks later than it had originally planned. ®


Other stories you might like

  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading
  • Meta hires network chip guru from Intel: What does this mean for future silicon?
    Why be a customer when you can develop your own custom semiconductors

    Analysis Here's something that should raise eyebrows in the datacenter world: Facebook parent company Meta has hired a veteran networking chip engineer from Intel to lead silicon design efforts in the internet giant's infrastructure hardware engineering group.

    Jon Dama started as director of silicon in May for Meta's infrastructure hardware group, a role that has him "responsible for several design teams innovating the datacenter for scale," according to his LinkedIn profile. In a blurb, Dama indicated that a team is already in place at Meta, and he hopes to "scale the next several doublings of data processing" with them.

    Though we couldn't confirm it, we think it's likely that Dama is reporting to Alexis Bjorlin, Meta's vice president of infrastructure hardware who previously worked with Dama when she was general manager of Intel's Connectivity group before serving a two-year stint at Broadcom.

    Continue reading
  • Lithium production needs investment to keep pace with battery demand
    Report says $42b will need to be poured into industry over next decade

    Growing demand for lithium for batteries means the sector will need $42 billion of investment to meet the anticipated level of orders by the end of the decade, according to a report.

    Lithium is used in batteries that power smartphones and laptops, but there is also rising use in electric vehicles which is putting additional pressure on supplies.

    The report, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, predicts that demand will reach 2.4 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2030, roughly four times the 600,000 tons of lithium forecast to be produced this year.

    Continue reading
  • Cars in driver-assist mode hit a third of cyclists, all oncoming cars in tests
    Still think we're ready for that autonomous future?

    Autonomous cars may be further away than believed. Testing of three leading systems found they hit a third of cyclists, and failed to avoid any oncoming cars.

    The tests [PDF] performed by the American Automobile Association (AAA) looked at three vehicles: a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe with Highway Driving Assist; a 2021 Subaru Forester with EyeSight; and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 with Autopilot.

    According to the AAA, all three systems represent the second of five autonomous driving levels, which require drivers to maintain alertness at all times to seize control from the computer when needed. There are no semi-autonomous cars generally available to the public that are able to operate above level two.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022