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Competition teams at Clifford Chance and Norton Rose are striving to make a tie-up between Orange UK and T-Mobile UK work as their European parents try to create the UK’s largest mobile phone operator.
Clifford Chance London competition partner Jenine Hulsman is working alongside Düsseldorf competition partner and office head Joachim Schütze to advise T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom on the issue.
Clifford Chance communications, media and technology head Joachim Fleury and London M&A partner Spencer Baylin are also acting on the deal for Deutsche Telekom.
Norton Rose regulatory partner Michael Grenfell, who is part of a team that includes corporate partner Oliver Stacey and corporate finance partner Chris Pearson, is handling the competition aspects of the deal for Orange’s parent company France Telecom.
The two telecoms companies have entered into exclusive negotiations to combine their UK arms in a new 50-50 joint venture company. A statement released by Deutsche Telekom said the new venture would create the UK’s leading mobile operator, with a projected combined mobile customer base of around 28.4 million.
The new company would hold a 37 per cent share of the UK mobile market, putting it well ahead of O2, which commands 27 per cent, and Vodafone, which has a 25 per cent share.
It is anticipated that France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom will supply the European Commission with the final details of the proposal by the end of October. The Commission will decide whether to examine the deal itself or refer it to the Office of Fair Trading in the UK.
Under the terms of the merger T-Mobile UK would enter the joint venture on a cash-free, debt-free basis, while Orange UK would enter with £1.25bn of debt.
Clifford Chance and Norton Rose declined to comment.