Orange drops French plans

July 03, 2014 - 1:09:50 am

PARIS: Orange has ditched plans to take part in any tie-ups in the French telecoms market, the former monopoly said yesterday.

Orange said in May it was examining what role it could play in such deal-making, and sources said that it had held informal talks with third-place mobile operator Bouygues Telecom.

“Orange... believes that it cannot pursue this avenue at the present time as the conditions that the group has set have not been met,” the company said in a statement.

A source familiar with the matter said Bouygues was seeking too high a price for its telecom unit. To appease potential antitrust concerns, Orange had also tried to bring in upstart operator Iliad into the talks but the three parties could not find a common ground. “The discussions are over,” the source said.

Bouygues and Iliad could not immediately be reached for comment. Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg has said the government — which holds a 27 percent stake in Orange — wants to reduce the number of telecom players to three from four as tough competition in the sector is hurting jobs and investment in high-speed broadband. Reuters