If there was any doubt that British Telecom wanted to get back into the mobile business it should now be clear. Today Deutsche Telekom and Orange have confirmed they are in discussions with BT with a view to selling off mobile operator EE.
Earlier in the week we heard how BT was in talks with Telefonica about the possibilities and options of buying back O2. These early rumours were made clearer by a Spanish report which cited Telefonica's Group CEO, José María Álvarez Pallete. Apparently BT and Telefonica should get together to fight off "the attempted invasion of American giants," such as AT&T, according to Álvarez. Furthermore it was confirmed that talks between the two parties were "advanced, but have not yet reached any final agreement".
Now, interestingly, we see this news from the owners of the UK's EE mobile network. The statement by EE owners Deutsche Telekom and Orange is rather brief. The two EE owners say that they regularly consider EE's market position, and how to strengthen it, and strategic options to improve shareholder value. We are told that as part of these activities the companies are "having highly preliminary exploratory discussions with British Telecom". They add that any discussions are in an early stage and if they go any further announcements will be made at the appropriate times.
EE is the clear leader in 4G connectivity in the UK and holds 33.8 per cent of the UK mobile market. It would cost BT around £10 billion, according to Reuters. Meanwhile choosing O2 would instantly net BT 26.2 per cent of the UK mobile market and shave the company's outlay to £9 billion. It will be very interesting to see which way this goes…