By Alex MacDonald
LONDON — Telecom company BT Group PLC said Thursday it has agreed to acquire mobile operator EE from Deutsche Telekom AG and Orange SA for £12.5 billion ($18.98 billion).
The deal puts the British fixed-line giant back into mobile services and further scrambles a fast-moving telecoms sector across Europe. BT /zigman2/quotes/209006687/delayed UK:BT.A +4.03% plans to pay for EE through a combination of cash and BT shares. The U.K.-based telecommunications company plans to fund the cash component of the deal through new shares, which will aim to raise about £1 billion, and through the issuance of new debt.
Following the BT purchase, Deutsche Telekom /zigman2/quotes/201442689/delayed XE:DTE +0.36% will hold a 12% stake in BT and will be entitled to appoint one nonexecutive member of the BT board of directors. Orange /zigman2/quotes/201008076/delayed FR:ORA -0.13% will hold a 4% stake in BT.
EE is a leading mobile network operator in the U.K. with 31 million customers of which 24.5 million are direct mobile customers and 834,000 are fixed broadband customers. It has the largest 4G customer base of any operator in Europe.