France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom are planning to merge their UK mobile phone operations in a new 50-50 joint venture.The UK market is unusual as it is highly competitive with five operators and several smaller players. O2 is the largest with 27.7 percent of the market, followed by Vodafone with 24.7 percent. France Telecom’s Orange and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile are third and fourth; together they would have 36.4 percent. : Richard Moat, Chief Executive of T-Mobile UK said: “This is going to create an exciting new number one in the UK mobile industry and we will be able to compete even more effectively with the existing large players, but above all we will be able to offer greater value to the UK consumer because of the fact that the economies of scale which we develop will enable us to offer a better deal.” The combination would present a fresh challenge to market leaders O2 and Vodafone. But analysts said it could be difficult for Orange and T-Mobile to agree on one brand and strategy. Britain’s competition regulator might also object. It recently said it was happy with the state of competition in the UK market.