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O2 buys out EE and Vodafone to take control of Weve


Weve, the UK-based mobile marketing and advertising company that was jointly owned by EE, O2 and Vodafone, is continuing its rather troubled existence. As a consequence of the impending shake-up of the UK mobile sector – with BT buying EE and 3 merging with O2 – there have been some serious doubts cast over the future of the joint venture company.

Today, O2 has announced that it is to take full control of the company, buying out its former partners for undisclosed terms, and it will now trade as a wholly owned subsidiary of O2.

Putting a positive spin on the news of this “strategic re-evaluation”, O2 says Weve will have access to an extra 20 million opt in customers, with the addition of O2 Wifi (accounting for 14 million) and its Priority loyalty programme (with 6 million). Making this rich data available to business customers (including Tesco, ITV and Ikea) means O2 will be able to help them with more relevant, targeted advertising.

And as the news announcement says, “with only one owner to answer to, not three shareholders and a separate board, Weve can be much more agile.” Read into that what you will.

According to O2, by focusing on mobile advertising at the end of last year, rather than mobile commerce, Weve has seen a 45% year-on-year revenue growth from 2013. The UK mobile digital advertising market grew by almost 100% last year to £850m in value.

“With O2’s heritage in digital services and as a pioneer in digital advertising, we are perfectly placed to capitalise on this potential,” said David Plumb, Digital Director of O2. “We are therefore pleased to announce that after a strategic re-evaluation of the joint venture, O2 is acquiring Weve.”

Only last year, O2 closed its own mobile commerce service; it apparently didn’t even move those few customers it had across to Weve. Mind you, Weve’s own wallet service closed in September last year, after a mere six months, so perhaps the writing was always on the wall. Word is that he three partners couldn’t agree on how best to implement the service.

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