Consolidation in the French market is reportedly off the table as the country’s operators focus on expansion through new services and geographical expansion, according to Bloomberg.
Sources quoted by the news website said since Orange’s failed bid to merge with Bouygues Telecom in early 2016, the dynamics of the market had changed and companies were now looking to explore other avenues to improve their position rather than engage in M&A activity.
The intensely competitive environment sparked by the entry of discount brand Free in 2012 appears to have subsided in recent quarters, with the country’s major operators recording signs of growth.
In July Orange reported its first quarterly rise in revenue for the French market since 2009: the following month Bouygues and Free parent Iliad talked up strong subscriber gains in the first half of 2017. SFR said it generated solid results in its B2C mobile division during Q2, driven by new offers and the continued improvement of its 4G coverage.
While domestic results improve, the companies are also making moves in new sectors. Orange and Altice-owned SFR are eyeing growth through financial services, while Iliad is focused on a move into the Italian market.
There also seems little appetite from authorities for consolation. In March, regulator Arcep announced it would remain “very vigilant” if any M&A between the country’s operators was attempted.