Orange CEO updates on ongoing Bouygues talks – report - Mobile World Live

Orange CEO updates on ongoing Bouygues talks – report

03 FEB 2016

Orange CEO Stephane Richard revealed talks over a tie-up with French rival Bouygues Telecom should be concluded by early March at the latest, adding that there was a “positive dynamic” to the discussions but reiterating the chances of success were only 50-50.

Orange confirmed preliminary talks to acquire its smaller competitor in early January, potentially setting up a deal that could reduce the French market from four to three players, in a deal worth a reported €10 billion.

If talks progress, the deal could create a dominant market leader in France with more than 50 per cent market share, raising questions over the level of regulatory scrutiny a potential tie-up will face domestically, and potentially by the European Commission.

Speaking at the sidelines of a conference in Paris, Reuters reports Richard saying he couldn’t confirm whether talks will conclude “at the end of February or the start of March, but that will be around that time”.

He also reiterated that the chances of reaching a deal were still 50-50.

In a separate update, Bloomberg reported the French government is willing to allow its stake of approximately 22 per cent in Orange to be diluted, potentially clearing one hurdle to pushing the deal through.

A source said the government had been presented with details of the talks in recent weeks, but the structure of the transaction and the assets Orange may have to sell to clear antitrust hurdles are still being negotiated.

However, the report notes France still wants to play an active role in Orange, with President Hollande keen for the government to remain as Orange’s largest shareholder and retain a blocking vote.

The government has a direct stake of approximately 13 per cent in the operator, while a further 9 per cent is owned through public investment bank BpiFrance.

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Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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