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08/10 3 February 2010
The OFT yesterday made a request to the European Commission (EC) to refer the UK aspects of the proposed joint venture between Orange UK and T-Mobile UK to the OFT.
The OFT's initial view, following consultation, is that the joint venture threatens significantly to affect competition in mobile telecommunications in the UK.
If the request is granted, the OFT intends to examine the proposed joint venture with a view to deciding whether it should be referred to the Competition Commission for an in-depth investigation.
1. On 14 January the OFT commenced consultation on whether to review the UK aspects of the Orange/T-Mobile joint venture.
2. Mergers, including joint ventures, that initially fall within the jurisdiction of the EU Merger Regulation may, in some circumstances, be referred to the UK to be examined by the OFT under the Enterprise Act 2002. In this case, the OFT is requesting that the European Commission refers to the OFT the UK aspects of the Orange/T-Mobile joint venture under the provisions of Article 9 of the EU Merger Regulation. The OFT has 15 working days from receipt from the Commission of a copy of the formal notification documentation to request that a merger is referred to it. Further details regarding the referral process can be obtained from the EC's website.
3. The OFT has a duty to make a reference to the Competition Commission if the OFT believes that it is or may be the case that arrangements are in progress or in contemplation which, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation, and the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the UK for goods or services.
4. Details of the EC's investigation into the joint venture can be obtained from the EC's website.
5. The EC will, as a general rule, inform the OFT and the notifying parties of its decision in respect of a request for referral under Article 9 within 35 working days from the formal notification of the merger or, where the EC has initiated proceedings under Article 6(1)(c) EU Merger Regulation, within 65 working days.
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