Stephane Richard, the CEO of Orange, forecast an end to the price war in France which has taken a toll on the country’s operators and their margins.
“In France we have among the lowest prices in the world for both fixed and mobile telecoms. Let’s be realistic: saying that prices will continue to decline in the coming years, it’s insane,” said Richard, speaking to France Inter radio. His comments were reported by Reuters.
Orange, SFR-Numericable, Bouygues Telecom and newcomer Free have been scapping since the latter’s arrival in the French market in 2012. Unsurprisingly, there has also been talk of M&A to mitigate the painful effects of the price war.
“I think that a well-regulated market with three operators would function very well, with four operators it can operate but it’s more complicated and it will require cooperation between operators,” said Richard.
But so far no party has been willing to give up enough to strike a deal. The various permutations discussed include Bouygues’ attempt to buy larger rival SFR. Then there was a complicated three-way affair involving Orange and Iliad jointly carving up Bouygues. And Numericable’s contention that it is the “natural buyer” for Bouygues.