Orange and Deutsche Telekom to Form UK Joint Venture

The speculation is over regarding what is to happen with T-Mobile's troubled UK unit. The Wall Street Journal is reporting this afternoon that France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom will form a UK joint venture:

The deal is expected to be signed Monday and announced Tuesday, before markets open, the people said.

The joint venture, described by the people familiar with the situation as a "merger of equals," will have a combined 30 million customers, excluding Virgin Mobile, which runs on T-Mobile's network, and 38% of the fiercely competitive U.K. mobile market, where it will battle with O2, Vodafone Group PLC and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.'s 3.

Orange will thus become the largest carrier in the UK. Reportedly both Vodafone and O2-owner Telefonica were bidding for T-Mobile UK. There's considerable speculation that Orange is to get the iPhone in October, as well. O2 has been the exclusive carrier to date in the UK. Though Orange has the iPhone in France. 

Related: Bloomberg offers some additional information:

[The JV will] create the country’s largest cellular operator with revenue of 9.4 billion euros ($13.5 billion)  . . . [and] will have 28.4 million users, or 37 percent of the U.K. market, ousting Telefonica SA’s O2 service from the top spot.

The deal shrinks the number of mobile-phone operators in the U.K. to four, with the others being Vodafone Group Plc and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., helping shore up profit in one of the most competitive markets in Europe.

Here's more detail from the Orange site