Orange CEO expecting BT EE bid decision by Christmas

The Chief Executive of Orange, Stephane Richard, has dropped a hint about the ongoing discussions with BT over a possible acquisition of EE, allegedly stating that he’s expecting a decision from the British telco in the next few weeks.

According to multiple reports, Richard spoke at a conference on the French economy, and stated that “BT has its own calendar. You should know more a few days before Christmas.”

Richard’s statement comes after growing speculation over BT’s potential acquisition of a major mobile player in the UK market. Both Orange and Deutsche Telekom, co-owners of EE, and Telefónica have confirmed that discussions are ongoing with BT, but this is the first occasion where a time frame for a decision has been suggested.

Should BT move to acquire either EE or O2 materialise, it’s likely that a major shake-up of the mobile industry will ensue. Hutchison 3G, the parent company of mobile provider Three, has also been linked with a move for either telco, and speculation linking Vodafone with a move for a fixed-line player has emerged, with both Talk Talk and Liberty Global being the two main parties rumoured to be targeted.

A visible trend in all of this is the emerging emphasis operators seem to be putting on a converged, multiplay service offering. The Annual Industry Survey, conducted earlier this year, gained responses from more than 2,000 industry professionals, with 68.1% agreeing that multiplay operators will have achieved significant advantage over pure play operators within five years.

The picture will surely come into greater focus in the coming weeks, but it’s likely that movement by any of the major players will result in significant upheaval of the mobile and fixed line industries in the UK markets.

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