Orange-Bouygues merger deal ‘to be judged in Paris’

Orange’s projected €10 billion acquisition of Bouygues Telecom would be subject only to approval of French, and not European, competition regulators, according to reports from Paris.

The move is seen as making the potential tie-up – in which the Bouygues construction group would take a stake in Orange – more likely. The European Commission’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, is increasingly seen as an opponent of consolidation in the telecoms market.

Reuters is reporting that three unnamed people familiar with the matter say that the matter will be judged in Paris, not Brussels, and the Financial Times says it have two sources, also unnamed.

Orange and Bouygues appear to be relying on the fact that Bouygues Telecom operates only in France and does not have cross-border services in the EU.

The news follows on the decision by the UK’s regulator to permit BT’s acquisition of UK-only mobile operator EE, even though EE is a 50-50 joint venture of Orange and Deutsche Telekom. That deal will close by the end of January 2016.