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OFT looking towards review of Orange and T-Mobile merger

The merger of Orange and T-Mobile UK has prompted an admission from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that it believes a review of the merger should be instigated. A straight merger of the two operations in the UK would give the enlarged group about 37% of the UK mobile phone market with nearest rival Vodafone currently controlling around 25% of the market. As a consequence, there is a growing belief that competition could be subdued if the merger is allowed to go ahead without any conditions and potential selloffs.

While the UK mobile phone market has grown enormously over the last 20 years many people believe the future could be very much brighter with mobile broadband now a vital area of business. New technology and new networks will be coming online in the short to medium term and the Orange/T mobile merger may well have a direct impact upon competition in this area.

The OFT has been in contact with the European commission about its concerns and is waiting for the European commission to comment upon the UK side of the merger. While no investigation is certain as yet it would appear that we are inching towards a formal investigation into the merger which could both delay and change both the shape and size of the deal.

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