EE: We want to be more British

EE may have a Dutch CEO and French and German parents, but  the operator is firmly nailing its British colours to the mast and may seek to further underline its "Britishness" through a London listing possibly as early as next year.


In an interview with Bloomberg, EE CEO Olaf Swantee said a UK initial public offering or a sale to a private equity company are the two main options open to the mobile operator right now.

"The advantage of an IPO is we would be perceived as more British than we are today," Swantee told Bloomberg in a recent interview. "Being on the stock exchange would make us more UK-centric. It would give us more financial capacity."

EE will face increased competition starting at the end of August, when both Vodafone UK and O2 UK start selling LTE services to UK consumers and businesses. Enhancing its brand and emphasising its commitment to British users would certainly benefit EE as the country's newest mobile provider, particularly in view of its foreign ownership and its maintenance of three separate brands: Orange and T-Mobile still sell 3G services in the UK.

"We are truly one company now," Swantee said. "Orange and T-Mobile are very strong brands, but both don't play in the entire market."

Parents Deutsche Telekom and Orange are waiting for EE's investments in its LTE network to pay off, and EE has previously said that it is on track to reaching 1 million LTE customers by the end of this year. Its total customer base exceeds 27 million, and this is now shifting more to more lucrative contract plans and away from prepaid and no-contract offerings.

Nevertheless, LTE is still very much a nascent market in Europe, unlike in the United States where operators have been offering LTE plans for much longer. It will still take time to convince users of its benefits; EE is relying on U.S. actor Kevin Bacon to spread its message.

"[LTE] is very new in Europe at the moment. I think it will probably take a few years" to catch on, IHS analyst Peter Boyland told Bloomberg. He added that faster speeds are not enough to make users switch contracts, and many simply prefer to wait until their own operator rolls out LTE services.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article

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