Orange ‘on verge of announcing Bouygues Telecom takeover’

15 February 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Orange is expected to announce a takeover of rival French operator Bouygues Telecom on Tuesday, according to French Sunday newspaper le Journal du Dimanche.

The unconfirmed report said that discussions were going on over the weekend with rival operators SFR and Free about sharing some of Bouygues Telecom’s assets.

The newspaper, consistently well informed about the negotiations between Orange and Bouygues Telecom, said that a deal was nearly abandoned when Free was reluctant to pay the asking price for some of Bouygues’s low-frequency spectrum.

In the end, Free has paid more than it planned, said le Journal du Dimanche. Free is expected to pay around €2 billion, it suggested, but Free and SFR are still discussing how many of Bouygues’s customers they will take over. Free will take control of Bouygues’s shops, said the report.

Le Journal du Dimanche reported in late 2015 that the Bouygues construction and real estate group will take a 15% stake in the Orange group as part of a deal to merge Bouygues Telecom with the French incumbent. At the same time the French state’s holding in Orange will drop from 23% to 20%. None of these details has been confirmed by any party to the negotiations.