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Hutchison Whampoa Bt Three

BT’s EE purchase could cause UK mobile price hitch Which head warns


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

February 6, 2015 | 2 min read

The head of UK consumer watchdog Which has warned that BT’s £12.5bn acquisition of EE could harm competition in the UK mobile market.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which, said the proposed merger of 02 and Three-owner Hutchison Whampoa bolstered by BT’s takeover of EE, could put the competition of the UK’s mobile industry at risk.

Lloyd said: "This deal would signal more significant change to the UK telecoms market, with O2 and Three also expected to merge. Fewer players in any essential market is rarely good for consumers.

"The competition authorities must now look at both the proposed mergers and the market in the round to make sure that consumers are protected from unfair price increases or poorer service as a result of less competition."

The Which head also expressed his concern regarding the mergers to Ofcom and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) whose rubberstamp is required for the deal to be finalised.

The letter read: "We believe these [mergers] must be scrutinised in depth and with an appropriate focus on both competition and consumer outcomes.

"The CMA, working with Ofcom, should therefore ensure that the market is being looked at in the round, and that the changes are not seen solely at the individual merger cases."

If the acquisition is green lit by regulators, EE’s 31 million UK customers will join BT’s 10 million.

Hutchison Whampoa Bt Three

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