EE is the UK's biggest mobile provider by customers, and has been a subsidiary of local telecoms leader BT since 2016. Branded mobile market share by customers at the end of 2017 was 28%, narrowly ahead of second-placed O2, but BT no longer splits out customer numbers for its consumer mobile service. The EE business was originally formed in 2010 from the merger of the UK operations of Orange and T-Mobile into a new joint venture that leapfrogged both O2 and Vodafone in total customers. Initially known as Everything Everywhere, the company adopted the shortened name EE towards the end of 2012 at the same time that it launched, by exclusive arrangement with telecoms regulators, the UK's first 4G service. Rivals were barred from launching their own equivalent service until early 2013. That same year, EE replaced Vodafone as the bandwidth supplier for BT's own MVNO service. In return, BT supported the launch of an EE fixed broadband offer. Those conversations gradually evolved into an offer by BT at the end of 2014 to buy out the entire business from Orange and T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom. Despite objections from other operators, the sale was approved by regulators and completed in Jan 2016. The company continues to manage what remains of the Orange and T-Mobile 3G brands in the UK, but the vast majority of users have now upgraded to EE 4G. The company also offers value-priced mobile service under the PlusNet brand. Third party MVNO services using the EE network include Virgin Mobile, Asda Mobile and China Mobile's CMLink. The group managed 29m mobile connections in March 2018 including 19.6m 4G customers. EE revenues for the year to 2018 were £5.3bn. However, the business has since been bundled into the combined BT Consumer division alongside fixed line telecoms and broadband. Former EE chief Marc Allera is CEO of BT Consumer.
Capsule checked 18th December 2020
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Adbrands Weekly Update 4th Feb 2016: UK telecoms leader BT completed its acquisition of mobile company EE, previously a joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and Orange. BT plans to retain EE as a separate business division alongside BT Consumer, with Marc Allera - currently chief commercial officer - moving up to divisional CEO in place of Olaf Swantee. Several other members of EE's senior team are also leaving including chief marketing officer Pippa Dunn, chief customer officer Francoise Clemes, and others. EE marketing director Spencer McHugh remains in place.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Dec 2014: BT announced plans to consolidate its position as the dominant UK telecoms provider with a £12.5bn offer to acquire EE, the local mobile joint venture between Orange and Deutsche Telekom. BT had been weighing up alternative bids for EE, the UK's biggest mobile operator, or second-placed O2. It finally decided to go all out for the market leader, despite the additional complications of twin vendors. The two sides entered exclusive negotiations this week. A deal will require regulatory approval. The combined group may for example be forced to surrender some wireless bandwidth. It is also likely to face opposition from rival telecoms groups. However, if completed, it would mark BT's long-awaited return to directly owned mobile services. Since spinning off what is now O2 in 2000 to reduce its debts it has been virtually the only major fixed telecoms group in the world without a direct presence in mobile. The addition of EE would give BT a strong position in all four major digital markets of fixed line, broadband, IP TV and now mobile. Under the proposed arrangement, Deutsche Telekom would end up with a 12% stake in the enlarged BT and Orange would have 4%. Sky and Hutchison Whampoa's Three are also said to be keen to build their local presence, so a deal for O2 could follow in the New Year.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Nov 2014: There were clear signs on the horizon of further consolidation among European telecoms groups. At an investor conference, the CEO of French mobile group Orange confirmed the likelihood of some form of deal over its UK-based joint venture with Deutsche Telekom, which operates as EE, and is the local market leader. "The 50/50 situation isn't a long-term scheme," said Stephane Ricard. "In the future - not the near future - we will have to think with the Germans about the evolution of EE." Considerable further investment is already required to build EE's presence in broadband and streamed TV services. The next step could be a full buyout by one or other partner, an IPO, or a sale to private equity. However, "don't expect anything spectacular in the short term," he warned. It was subsequently revealed that UK telecoms group BT had opened talks with both O2 and EE over the acquisition of one or other operator.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Oct 2013: The UK's dominant mobile and fixed line telecoms suppliers have forged a significant new partnership. BT is the country's biggest broadband and wireline provider, but has no mobile service of its own, having sold off what is now O2 in 2001. Instead for the past nine years it has offered an MVNO BT Mobile service through Vodafone. However the latter's purchase of Cable & Wireless, a BT competitor, put an end to that arrangement. Instead, BT has signed a new agreement with EE, the UK joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile, to offer BT-branded mobile services to residential and business customers. BT will also inject into the partnership the large quantity of superfast 4G spectrum it unexpectedly acquired earlier this year. Could this be the beginning of an even closer relationship between the two companies? BT is virtually the only major telecoms company in the world not to control its own mobile service, while EE's owners have repeatedly been rumoured to be considering options to extract cash from that business to pay down their own significant debts. A merger in part or whole would kill two birds with one stone...
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