OFT to probe Orange and T-Mobile merger

05/02/2010

The Office of Fair Trading has cast doubt on the planned merger of T-Mobile UK and Orange, warning it could threaten competition."The OFT's initial view, following consultation, is that the joint venture threatens significantly to affect competition in mobile telecommunications in the UK," the agency said in a statement.

T-Mobile UK, which is owned by Germany's Deutsche Telekom, and Orange, which is owned by France Telecom, are planning to join forces to create a mobile operator that would have a 37-percent market share in Britain, beating nearest rival Vodafone - which holds 25 percent of the market.

05/02/2010

The watchdog said it had made a formal request to the European Commission, which is also looking into the proposed merger, to refer the British aspects of the deal back to the OFT.

If the request is granted, the OFT said it would then examine the merger proposal to see if it required a more "in-depth investigation."

Commenting on the OFT’s request to investigate the Orange and T- Mobile merger, Mike Wilson, manager of mobiles and broadband at moneysupermarket.com said: “One of the most important factors in any merger like this should be the impact on the consumer. The merger between Orange and T-Mobile would create the biggest mobile operator in the UK and reduce competition in the market to four main providers. It is crucial that the deal receives as much scrutiny as possible.”

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