British fixed line incumbent BT has asked local competition authorities to move straight to a full investigation of its proposed acquisition of mobile market leader EE, calling for a preliminary review to be bypassed.
Confirming the development in a press release, BT confirmed that it had made a formal submission to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) seeking approval for the EE purchase, arguing that the deal would be ‘good for competition, investment and innovation in the UK – and that consumers and businesses will benefit as a result’. Central to the telco’s argument, it noted, is the fact that should the deal be given the go ahead, it would not reduce competition in either the fixed or mobile markets, but in fact enhance it, with the number of UK mobile network operators remaining at four.
As such, BT has asked the CMA to proceed directly to a ‘Phase 2’ investigation into the proposed acquisition, with it understood that this would allow the watchdog to ‘efficiently consider any complex issues in depth without delay, and offers a shorter end-to-end review period compared to the CMA’s usual processes’.
In response, the CMA has confirmed receipt of BT’s request, and has called for comments from interested parties on the proposal to fast track the examination of the proposed deal. With a deadline of 26 May having been set for submissions, the CMA has said that if it opts to move forward to Phase 2 it would expect to issue a decision within the next three weeks.