BT profits beat expectations as EE deal eyed

BT earnings: What surprised markets

BT, the British telecoms giant, announced better-than-expected net profit of £511 million ($797 million) for the first quarter on Thursday.

Analysts had expected profit to come in around £491 million.

After years of under-performance, the share price has recently hit levels not seen since 2001 as optimism about its takeover of mobile operator EE and investment in cable television grows.

The combination of BT and EE has already been protested by rival operators as anti-competitive. In September, the U.K.'s competition body will issue provisional findings and identify any potential selloffs.

BT full-year earnings beat forecasts

There is also increasing focus on Openreach, the company's infrastructure division, which sells access to the U.K.'s main wireline network. Rivals like Sky have called for the division to be separated from BT, and regulator Ofcom is currently considering its future.

The company did not comment on the inquiry beyond saying it is "looking forward to completing our acquisition of EE."

Battle over soccer TV rights heats up with $8B deal

Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT, said in a statement: "This is an exciting time at BT. The investments we are making in our business and customer service are building a strong platform for growth. And our financial results show we're on track to achieve our outlook for the full year."

- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle