BT agrees to buy largest mobile operator EE for 12.5 billion in cash, stock and debt

The telecoms group BT says it has agreed to buy Britain's largest mobile operator, EE, for 12.5 billion pounds ($18.9 billion) in cash, stock and debt.

The deal gives BT access to EE's 31 million customers, including 24.5 million direct mobile customers and 834,000 fixed broadband customers. The transaction will be partly financed by a 1 billion-pound share sale.

EE's current owners, Deutsche Telekom and Orange, will each receive the equivalent of 5.1 billion pounds. Deutsche Telekom will get new shares equal to 12 percent of BT and a small cash payment, while Orange will receive a 4 percent stake and 3.4 billion pounds in cash. Deutsche Telekom will also gain a seat on BT's board.

The deal needs the approval of shareholders and the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority.