Shareholders give thumbs-up to BT wireless spin-off

Investors defy union pleas and throw their votes behind BT's plan to demerge itself of mmO2. Critics fear that a takeover bid will follow

BT announced on Tuesday afternoon that its shareholders had voted overwhelmingly in favour of floating its wireless operations on the stock market.

Despite protests from the Communications Workers Union and telecoms union Connect, investors backed the plan, which will see mmO2 -- formerly known as BT Wireless -- demerged on 19 November. A total of 4.3 billion BT shares were cast in favour of spinning-off mmO2, with a mere 670,000 shares against.

After the vote, which was held at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre, a BT spokesman said, "We are happy to receive overwhelming shareholder support for this, although there are some formal procedures still to go through."

Unions and some BT workers had protested outside the shareholder meeting. The CWU, which claims the split is a mistake, lobbied city institutions and the government in an attempt to get the demerger blocked. It fears that mmO2 could be a takeover target for another firm, a move that could lead to thousands of job cuts.

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