Talks of Voda and T-Mobile UK deal grow

DEUTSCHE Telekom was playing down mounting speculation it will sell its T-Mobile UK subsidiary to Vodafone yesterday, saying it has only just named a new boss for the group.<br /><br />Richard Moat, the 54-year old former Orange Romania chief executive, started last Friday as managing director of T-Mobile UK.<br /><br />And sources close to Deutsche Telekom said this shows the group is now committed to turning around the fortunes of the underperforming mobile phone operator.<br /><br />However, another industry source said he understands that Deutsche Telekom is keen to sell the struggling UK firm.<br /><br />An acquisition of T-Mobile by a bigger rival, such as Vodafone or Orange, could give rise to a firm controlling 40 per cent of the UK market. O2, currently the largest UK operator, would be dwarfed by such a deal.<br /><br />A spokesman for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said the regulator had its eye on the situation and would examine the impact on competition of such a merger was proposed.<br /><br />The OFT might refer the merger to the Competition Commission if it fears an adverse impact. A spokesman for the Commission said last night he would expect any investigation involving firms the size of Vodafone and T-Mobile to take six months.<br /><br />With five network operators, the UK is the EU&rsquo;s most competitive market, leading analysts to call for a wave of consolidation to boost profits.