Cast your minds back to September of last year and you may recall the news that UK networks Orange and T-Mobile had entered talks over a possible merger. The proposed partnership would result in the UK’s biggest network with almost 30 million subscriptions which makes for scary reading the UK’s other major networks.
Following the initial talks, Orange and T-Mobile then signed a contract agreement in November further cementing their commitment to the proposed merger. But, from here, it was out of T-Orange’s hands. The deal would need to be verified and approved by the European Commission meaning there was still a major hurdle to jump. Well scratch that as, on Monday, the European Commission gave the UK networks the green light for the proposed merger.
UK consumer groups including the Office of Fair Trading had voiced concerns that the merger would have a negative impact on competition but the Commission claimed that “the commitments offered by the parties remedy the identified competition concerns.”
So, what now? Well, a statement from Orange issued shortly after the European Commission’s announcement noted that Orange and T-Mobile would work on integrating their combined 19,000 workforce. Tom Alexander, currently CEO of Orange UK, will take the helm as Chief Executive whilst Richard Moat, currently CEO of T-Mobile UK, will take on the role of chief operating officer. The board of the new joint venture company will comprise representation from both Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom who own T-Mobile and Orange respectively.
But what does this mean to all you Orange and T-Mobile customers out there? Well, for the immediate future, not alot. It’s expected that the T-Mobile and Orange UK brands will continue to operate independently for at least eighteen months after the merger. Longer term, could we see the iPhone and Orange Wednesdays make the move over to T-Mobile customers? And most pressing of all, what new name, if any, will this new giant adopt? Our money’s on Orange-Mobile (sorry T-Orange) but what do you reckon? Let us know in the comments below and keep an eye on the blog for more news.