City analysts have accused Orange and T-Mobile of “dithering” after they axed plans for a £10 billion flotation of EE.
The joint owners of Britain’s biggest mobile company, with 27.4 million customers, have been looking at an IPO for around a year but have now postponed the float — reportedly after poor feedback from bankers.
Orange and T-Mobile are said to believe EE’s valuation will rise significantly as its super-fast 4G service gains momentum and generates higher revenues. Ten days ago, EE boasted that it had brought in two million 4G customers in 16 months — double the number it had forecast.
Analysts at Espirito Santo bank were unimpressed by the delay, saying EE could win “a loyal investor base” by floating now as the company would be “sharing that upside with public market investors… rather than waiting until business momentum had peaked”.
The broker added: “We view the constant dithering on the future ownership of EE as likely unhelpful to the business.”
The telecoms market is in the midst of consolidation as mobile, broadband and pay-TV converge and big international players such as Liberty Global and AT&T look to buy European assets. There is speculation EE could attract speculative bidders from private equity.