Orange and T-Mobile merger gets green light

03/03/2010

The proposed merger between Orange and T-Mobile in the UK has been cleared after the Office of Fair Trading withdrew a request for an EC investigation. Having investigated the merger, the EC decided that it could see no direct competition concerns relating to providing services to end users, or consumers, or the wholesale telecoms market. The European Commission has cleared the way for T-Mobile and Orange to merge its operations in the UK after receiving advice from a UK consumer body that it will "not now have an adverse impact on competition within the UK".

03/03/2010

"I am happy that we managed to resolve the competition issues in this case quickly in close cooperation with the Member State concerned," said European Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia.

However, it did have concerns about Hutchinson, which it called the smallest mobile network operator in the UK.

It added that the merger of the two larger players could have threatened the existence of the firm, and could have created a system in which they could charge what they want for access to the 1800MHz spectrum.

In a statement the regulators added, "In order to address the competition concerns identified by the Commission, the parties concluded a revised agreement with 3UK which will secure its position as a competitive force on the market, and offered to divest 15 MHz of spectrum at the 1800 MHz level. The Commission concluded that the commitments offered by the parties remedy the identified competition concerns."

Both brands would continue to operate in the UK for at least 18 months after the completion of the transaction, expected to happen sometime in spring.

The two companies reckon that its combined customer base will add up to 29.5 million once the merger is complete.

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