EC clears T-Mobile takeover of Orange


BRUSSELS -- The European Commission on Monday cleared the planned cellphone and broadband takeover of Orange Nederlands by Deutsche Telekom unit T-Mobile.

Orange Nederlands is France Telecom's Dutch mobile phone operator, and T-Mobile is expected to use its toehold in the market to both consolidate its European operations and develop its mobile broadcasting services. The EC also ruled that T-Mobile could acquire Orange Nederlands' broadband operations.

The commission -- the European Union's antitrust authority -- said the transaction would not threaten competition on the mobile retail market because Orange has not been a particularly aggressive competitor.

The EC found that the proposed merger would "not threaten competition on the mobile retail market," as other operators such as KPN and Vodafone Group as well as mobile virtual network operators will continue to compete with the new company.

The deal would make T-Mobile the second-largest operator in the Netherlands in terms of subscribers and third-largest in terms of revenue.

Since Orange Netherlands consists of two separate entities -- Orange Nederland NV (ONL) and Orange Nederland Breedband (ONB) -- the commission also examined the broadband Internet access implications of the deal, and found that, likewise, there were no antitrust concerns.

In June, Deutsche Telekom said it will buy France Telecom's cell phone unit and Orange Netherlands in a deal that will see the Germany company sell its Spanish unit to the French firm.