Combined phone firms would lead UK market

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The Independent Online

A tie-up between Orange and T-Mobile in the UK will catapult two of the sector's smaller players into lead position in the UK market with a share of 37 per cent.

Together, Orange and T-Mobile will have around 28.4 million customers in the UK, leapfrogging larger rivals O2 and Vodafone to secure pole position. Combined sales will total £7.7 billion, with earnings of £1.7 billion, based on pro forma 2008 figures.

Here are some facts about the two companies:

* Orange was first launched by Hutchison Whampoa on April 28, 1994, with its headquarters in Bristol. It was the fourth company to enter the UK marketplace.

* Orange hit the one million customer milestone in July 1997 and now has 17 million mobile and fixed broadband customers in the UK. In June 1996, Orange became the youngest company to enter the FTSE 100, valued at £2.4 billion.

* German group Mannesmann bought Orange for £21.8 billion in 1999. It then became part of the Vodafone group briefly after a takeover of Mannesmann in 2000. Vodafone sold Orange to France Telecom in 2001 for £25.1 billion.

* Since launch in the UK, Orange has expanded to five continents with more than 175 million customers globally. It has 12,500 staff in the UK.

* T-Mobile has more than 148 million customers worldwide, of whom 12 million are in the UK. It has around a 15 per cent share of the UK market.

* T-Mobile has 6,500 employees in the UK, with a head office in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

* It started life as One 2 One in 1993, launched as a joint venture by Cable & Wireless and US firm MediaOne. In 1999, German company Deutsche Telekom agreed to buy One 2 One in a deal worth £8.4 billion.

* One 2 One was rebranded as T-Mobile in 2002.

* T-Mobile claims to have become the first company to launch picture messaging in the UK.

* Deutsche Telekom put T-Mobile up for sale in early 2009 as the UK arm struggled amid negative sales in a highly competitive UK market.

* Richard Moat was appointed managing director of T-Mobile UK in May 2009 as part of a new management team to reinvigorate the business.