BT dealt major blow by O2-Virgin Media mega merger
O2 and Virgin Media confirmed their £31 billion mega merger last week in a move that poses a significant threat to the future of telecoms giants BT and Vodafone.
With the £31.4 billion deal between O2-owner Telefonica and Virgin Media backer Liberty Global now finalised, the newly created entity plans to rollout new superfast broadband across the UK and launch 5G networks.
‘Combining O2's number one mobile business with Virgin Media's superfast broadband network and entertainment services will be a game changer in the UK at a time when demand for connectivity has never been greater or more critical,’ Telefonica chief executive officer (CEO) Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete said.
‘We are creating a strong competitor with significant scale and financial strength to invest in UK digital infrastructure and give millions of consumer, business and public sector customers more choice and value.’
The deal is still subject to regulatory approval, but if allowed to go ahead, the mega merger will create a business with annual revenues of more than £11 billion.
BT under pressure from new telecoms challenger
The news of the mega merger between O2 and Virgin Media applies added pressure on BT at time where it is attempting to drive transformational change throughout its business.
In the company’s 2019 full-year (FY) results last week, BT managed to deliver a positive set or earnings amid a challenging environment, with the business delivering results in line with expectations and completing its £1.6 billion phase one transformation programme – one year ahead of schedule.
Despite making good progress, the telecoms provider has had to slow its growth strategy amid the Covid-19 crisis, though the company admitted that it is still unclear just how much of an impact the pandemic will have on its overall performance in 2020.
Due to Covid-19, BT is not providing guidance for its 2020-2021 financial year at this time.
In order to allow BT to cope with the challenges posed by the Covid-19 outbreak and invest in its FTTP and 5G network, as well as finance its five-year modernisation programme, the company has suspended its dividend until 2022.
‘BT is delivering, but is also changing. BT needs to be leaner, simpler and more agile,’ BT CEO Philip Jansen said. ‘This five-year initiative will re-engineer old and out of date processes, rationalise products, reduce re-work and switch off many legacy services.’
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