updated 10:20 am EDT, Fri May 1, 2009
T-Mobile UK May Merge
T-Mobile's UK division may merge with a rival or even sell off its assets if it can't recover from major losses, its CFO Timotheus Hoettges said at the cellphone carrier's annual shareholder's meeting. The British group may have to write down the equivalent of $2.4 billion in costs for just the first quarter of 2009 and is considering any steps it can take to cut these expenses. Which is more likely isn't known, though the executive sees a merger as one of the most practical ways to address the problem.
"In our view consolidation is a means to take excess capabilities out of the market," Hoettges says. "Nothing is unthinkable on our side."
Whether talks are in progress, and which carriers would be involved, isn't known. Marketing Week suggests that the data-friendly carrier 3 would be a likely candidate as it sits just below T-Mobile UK in the ranks and would give the two smaller providers more influence. Other top carriers in the UK include the iPhone's exclusive British carrier, O2, as well as Orange and Vodafone.
T-Mobile typically fares better in Europe than in the US but has few exclusive "halo" devices that attract customers beyond the Android-based G1, limiting its potential reach.