French regulators oppose consolidation

16 January 2013 | Kavit Majithia


French competition regulators have publically opposed consolidation in the market following the launch of low-cost operator Free last year.

Bruno Lasserre, chairman of Autorité de la Concurrence, told local reporters that “a return to three operators is not desirable… I would be wary of such mergers.”

European telecoms commissioner Neelie Kroes and Europe’s competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia have told the Financial Times of their preference in creating a pan-European telecoms market rather than domestic market consolidation.

Free, part of Iliad, was launched by billionaire Xavier Niel and has created a price war in France, significantly reducing investment and revenues for established market players SFR, France Telecom and Bouygues.

Lasserre expressed his opposition to consolidation, but did acknowledge Free’s arrival had significant short-term effects. However, he maintained his stance that four operators is better for consumers, and will push companies “towards greater innovation”.