Telstra and Optus? If you're Hutchison or Vodafone, you merge! Announced today, two of Australia's smaller operators have decided that an equal joint venture would be the best approach to moving on up, and while they aren't suggesting that the current economic conditions influenced the decision, many analysts are suggesting that the tie-up could help the newly formed VHA fend off adverse effects from slowed spending on mobile communications. Once together, the combined group will have a local market share of around 26 percent, and Hutchison Australia's current chief executive, Nigel Dews, has been chosen to lead the new venture. Under the agreement, VHA will market its products and services under the Vodafone brand, though it will retain exclusive rights to Hutchison's "3" brand in The Land Down Under.