Orange-owner France Telecom is open to partnering with mobile rival Sunrise in Switzerland to help it better compete against market-leader Swisscom, the firm’s chief financial officer has told Reuters in an interview. Gervais Pellissier said a deal between Orange Switzerland and Sunrise – which is owned by Danish operator TDC – would make sense, but declined to say if the two parties had begun talks. “Those two small players are more or less competing against each other rather than attacking the biggest guy because of the structure of the market,” he told Reuters. “They are losing their shirts more or less in terms of margin in these markets.” His comments about Switzerland follow reports in January that France Telecom was considering a bid of up to EUR4 billion for Sunrise. The Swiss regulator noted last week that Orange and Sunrise were also in talks regarding a shared LTE network in Switzerland. 

According to Wireless Intelligence data, Swisscom dominates the Swiss mobile market with an estimated 62 percent market share (5.5 million connections) in 2Q09. Sunrise is second on 1.9 million (a 21 percent market share) and Orange is third on 1.6 million (18 percent). Pellissier hinted that similar consolidation could take place in countries such as Portugal, where Orange has a 20 percent stake in third-placed mobile operator Optimus, or in Belgium, where it is the number-two player.