Britain's BT Group in exclusive talks to buy mobile operator EE, re-enter cell-phone market

BT Group PLC says it is in exclusive talks to buy mobile phone operator EE from Germany's Deutsche Telekom and France's Orange for 12.5 billion pounds ($20 billion) in cash and shares.

BT, Britain's biggest home telephone and Internet provider, announced last month that it was planning to re-enter the mobile market, which it left in 2001.

EE has 24.5 million customers in Britain.

BT said Monday that the period of exclusivity "will last several weeks allowing BT to complete its due diligence and for negotiations on a definitive agreement to be concluded."

It foresees a deal that would leave Deutsche Telekom with a 12 percent stake in BT and Orange a 4 percent stake.

A deal would require the approval of BT shareholders.