T-Mo/Orange offer concessions to hasten merger approval

Worries that the proposed merger between T-Mobile UK and Orange UK could be referred to the UK competition authority have prompted the parent companies to offer concessions.

The current thinking is that the European Commission would make a faster decision - speculated to be this week - than the UK Fair Trading body, and to prompt the EC into a positive ruling Deutsche Telkom and France Telecom have indicated that they would sell off valuable spectrum. Other concessions have also been floated, including an offer to give the UK's smallest operator, 3, greater support with network sharing.

The EC has mailed a questionnaire to the other large UK mobile operators, including Telefonica's O2, Vodafone, and Hutchison's 3, and fixed-line firm BT asking for their views. Vodafone has said previously it supported the merger but believes regulators should examine how much spectrum, particularly in the 1800MHz band, the combined entity would have.

Separately, Olaf Swantee, the global head of the Orange mobile business, said that the merged company would continue to run both mobile brands in the UK for the foreseeable future.

Insisting that it made no sense to drop either brand, Swantee said: "We're quite convinced that the key for this merger is to provide benefits for a T-Mobile customer and Orange customer on day one. So the last thing we're going to do is kill a brand or rip one out of the market."

For more on this story:

Related stories:
T-Mobile and Orange agree JV terms, huge costs savings promised
VIDEO: T-Mobile, Orange execs explain why companies are merging UK operations
Orange/T-Mobile merger could face UK anti-competition probe
Vodafone look to tempt staff away from Orange/T-Mobile UK