Orange & T-Mobile Tie-up To Be Probed By Office Of Fair Trade

The Financial Times has reported that UK’s monopoly watchdog, Office of Fair Trading, has plans to investigate the proposed merger of Orange UK and T-Mobile, as it believes that the merger might "threaten competition in mobile telecommunications in the U.K."

The Office of Fair Trading revealed in a statement that was seeking permission from the European Union to conduct a close examination of the merger and has plans to refer the case to the Competition Commission

OFT has been examining the proposed merger between UK’s two major telecom services providers for a long time, as a possible merger could result in the creation of UK's largest telecom service provider, which will overtake O2 with a market share of 37 percent.

T-Mobile, which is owned by Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom's Orange, had announced their plans back in September 2009 with hopes of merging their UK operations in order to create a combined user base of 28 million users.

However, despite reports that indicated that the merger has been put on hold, an Orange spokesperson commenting on OFT’s decision, said in a statement that “We are in close contact with all of the authorities involved, including the OFT and Ofcom. We strongly believe that the proposed merger is good for Britain and will continue to work closely with all interested parties.”

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Three networks, a partner of T-Mobile, has also expressed concerns over the implications of the alliance of these two mobile operators, which are respectively 3rd and 4th when it comes to the number of customers served.

Related Links

Time running out for OFT T-Orange intervention

(The Register)

Orange and T-Mobile deal 'threatens competition'

(BBC News)

EU: UK Asks To Take Over T-Mobile/Orange Antitrust Probe

(Wall Street Journal)

OFT wants a look at the Orange T-Mobile merger

(The Inquirer)