Analysts have been quick to highlight the potential damage Vodafone could suffer from the effects of the planned merger of the UK units of T-Mobile and Orange, announced earlier this week. The deal, once completed, will relegate Vodafone to the UK’s number three mobile operator in terms of subscribers. Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight, told the Financial Times that Vodafone would be the biggest loser from the planned merger. “Having once dominated the UK market, Vodafone finds itself in third position,” he said. “With its global headquarters based in the UK, this will be a bitter pill to swallow.” Meanwhile, Nick Delfas, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, told the publication that the deal will leave Vodafone’s UK business in a “relatively poor market share position.”

Reports suggest Vodafone could hit back in one of two ways; Vodafone could make a higher offer for T-Mobile UK (after its earlier EUR4 billion offer was reportedly rejected by the German-owned company), or, arguably more likely, Vodafone could buy 3, the UK’s fifth mobile operator with a market share of around 6 percent (according to Wireless Intelligence). In a recent research note, Philip Carse of Teleq Consulting commented that “the deal must throw into doubt the future of 3 UK.” Mobile Business Briefing’s sister publication, Snapshot, also believes the deal is a major negative for Vodafone, stating that it “instantly weakens” the operator’s market status and could force it to deepen its collaboration with O2 in areas such as network sharing to match the efficiencies being targeted by the newly-merged entity on the network side. Read more of Snapshot’s take on the ‘T-Orange’ deal here.