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Orange, Bouygues confirm consolidation talks

January 5, 2016

By Colin Mann

French telco Orange has confirmed that it has renewed preliminary discussions with the Bouygues Group with a view to a consolidation with French mobile phone, Internet service provider and IPTV operator Bouygues Telecom.

These discussions are not limited by any particular calendar and hold no commitment to any particular predefined outcome.

In a Statement, Orange said it is exploring the opportunities available within the French telecoms market, while keeping in mind that its investments and its solid position afford it a total independence in its approach.

“Orange will act solely in the interests of its shareholders, its employees and its customers and will be particularly vigilant with regards to the value created through any resulting project,” it stated.

In announcing “preliminary discussions”, Bouygues Telecom said that it had returned to growth on the back of its strategies to develop digital uses, and its transformation plan. “Bouygues firmly believes that its telecoms activity can create value in the future in a context marked by the rapid expansion of Very-High-Speed mobile and fixed services,” it stated.

“As it is interested in opportunities that would enable it to bolster its long-term presence in the telecoms sector, Bouygues announces that preliminary discussions have started with Orange to look at the possible options. Therefore, a confidentiality agreement was signed today by Bouygues and Orange.”

“In keeping with the values it holds dear, Bouygues will attach decisive importance, in all the discussions it will pursue, to the interests of Bouygues Telecom employees and to investment momentum within the sector, which must remain strong in the interests of the consumer,” it noted.

“For the moment, no decisions have been taken and there is no guarantee that there will be an outcome to these preliminary discussions. According to the progression of these discussions, more information will be disclosed in due course,” it concluded.

Reports emerged Sunday January 4 that Orange and Bouygues had signed a confidentiality agreement that would see Orange acquire Bouygues’ telecom unit for €10 billion. As part of a potential deal, Orange would pay Bouygues €8 billion in shares and €2 billion in cash.
Altice owner Patrick Drahi made a similar offer in 2014. Martin Bouygues, the controlling shareholder in Bouygues, turned down that offer, saying a sale to the multinational cable, fibre, telecommunications, contents and media company would put French jobs at risk.

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