Everything Everywhere could be the subject of a takeover bid by private equity house KKR, which also owns British retailers Boots and Pets at Home.
The bid is reportedly being masterminded by former EE CEO Tom Alexander, who is said to have held discussions with KKR and another private equity group Apax, according to the Financial Times. The operator, formed by the merger of T-Mobile and Orange in the UK, dismissed the reports in a statement.
“We have a five-year plan for growth under the ownership of shareholders France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom,” it said. “We would not comment on any possible future shareholder structure.”
The idea that EE might be an acquisition target for a high street retail specialist reflects the operator’s evolved position. It no longer manages its own 3G network, having devolved responsibility for this to the MBNL shared venture with 3UK, which has seen T-Mobile, 3UK and Orange pooling together infrastructure equipment and tower sites.
Earlier this year the suggestion that Deutsche Telekom was looking to exit the UK market was widely reported, in the wake of the German incumbent’s failure to offload its US operation to AT&T. At the time Orange said it had no plans to give up its position in the UK market, but it is not thought to be likely that parent company France Telecom would be interested in buying its partner out, or able to raise the funds necessary to do so.
Everything Everywhere has a confused brand strategy, with T-Mobile and Orange continuing to face the UK consumer as separate entities, while a considerable marketing push has been put behind the parent brand. It is unclear what would happen to the three brands if the operation was acquired by a separate entity, although the Orange brand arguably has far greater traction in the UK market than T-Mobile, and certainly more than Everything Everywhere.
The firm also announced that it has eight new supporters of its 4G campaign. It is currently lobbying regulator Ofcom for approval to launch LTE services using its 1800MHz spectrum before the UK’s 800MHz and 2.6GHz auctions, which is due to be held later this year.
Rivals Vodafone and O2 are waiting for the auction in order to gain the spectrum necessary to roll out their LTE services, along with 3UK, although the operator recently told Telecoms.com that there is an opportunity for it to strike an agreement with Everything Everywhere to use its 1800MHz LTE network, if it gets the go-ahead from Ofcom.
The new supporters include construction group Kier and various consumer technology magazines.