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September 8, 2009

Orange and T-Mobile announce merger

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by David Allen

Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom plan to merge their UK mobile networks in a move that will create Britain’s biggest mobile operator.

Announcing the plan Tuesday, the two operators said they are aiming to reach an agreement by the end of October, and hope to get approval for the merger by mid-2010.

The newly-formed company will put Orange UK chief executive Tom Alexander as chief executive, and T-Mobile’s UK chief executive as chief operating operator.

Their merger will directly challenge current market leaders O2 and Vodafone, and is expected to save the two companies €4 billion.

O2’s current market share is 27%, followed by Vodafone on 25%. Orange and T-Mobile have a 22% and 15% market share respectively, while Hutchinson Whampoa’s 3 UK has 8%.

A joint statement from the two firms said: “T-Mobile UK and Orange UK brands will be maintained separately for 18 months after completion of the transaction.

“During that period management will review branding alternatives for the joint venture and will develop a new branding strategy recommendation for shareholder approval.”

However, analysts questioned the wisdom of the move and expressed fears that the two operators could fail to agree on a unified branding strategy.

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