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UK: “Rivals crying over spilled milk on EE deal” says BT boss

 |  October 12, 2015

Complaints by competitors about BT’s proposed acquisition of mobile network EE and calls for the British telecoms giant to be broken up are “frustrating”, the company’s chief executive told CNBC.

Earlier this year, BT sealed a £12.5 billion deal to buy Britain’s largest mobile network EE. Regulatory approval of the deal is still pending. But competitors such as TalkTalk have argued that the deal would damage competition in the sector.

At the same time, TalkTalk has complained to telecoms regulator Ofcom that BT’s “motive is to extract value” and pour money into its proposed acquisition of EE and its massive investments into sports rights acquisitions. TalkTalk has called for BT to be broken up, with Openreach – the arm which manages U.K. telecoms infrastructure – being spun off with a different ownership.

But BT’s boss has said that he understands the review into the telecom sector, but that any break-up of the company or blocking of the deal would hurt the U.K.’s economy.

“I do think it is frustrating for us,” Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT, told CNBC in a TV interview.

“We understand it. It’s part of a 10-year review that Ofcom are undertaking. But the facts are very clear, we’ve made the investments, the investments are open to everybody, so everybody can use our fiber on equivalent basis…and we’ve got to get on and build the next generation of broadband, ultra-fast broadband, so that’s where we should be focused.”

When asked whether competitors were crying over spilled milk, Patterson said, “I do actually”.

In a review of BT’s proposed acquisition of EE, Ofcom found no issues with the planned move. But it is ultimately up to the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority to decide.

Full content: Digital TV Europe

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