The Financial Times writes that French behemoth France Telecom-Orange (FT-Orange) is looking to appoint a number of banks to act as advisors on the possible sale or partial flotation of its UK mobile operation EE – currently the market’s leading player by subscribers. FT-Orange owns EE jointly with its German counterpart Deutsche Telekom (DT), following the merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK in 2010. The paper says the Paris-based partner has lined up Morgan Stanley as the lead bank to oversee the review process, although it adds that Bank of America Merrill Lynch is also likely to play a ‘lead role’ in the plan. It is thought that DT will appoint separate advisers.
The Financial Times cites one person familiar with the situation as saying that the banks will be asked to advise on a ‘twin track’ process for EE, and as such, to compare the possible outcomes based on either a sale or flotation of the group. No decision has been taken on whether to pursue either option.
Last month, TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported EE as saying that its 4G network had gone live in an additional 13 towns and cities across the UK bringing the total number of locations covered to 50, just five months after the launch of the service. In the latest switch-on, EE extended its 4G signal to Bradford, Bingley, Doncaster, Dudley, Harpenden, Leicester, Lichfield, Loughborough, Luton, Reading, Shipley, St Albans and West Bromwich, as the rollout continues to progress ahead of schedule. 4G from EE now covers the homes and businesses of 50% of the UK population. By the end of June 2013 EE is committed to extending coverage to another 30 towns and cities, bringing the total to 80. Olaf Swantee, EE CEO, commented: ‘Our customers are at the heart of our rollout and we are working hard to deliver 4G to 70% of the UK population by the end of this year, and 98% of the population by the end of 2014’.