Orange contemplates further European expansion

French telco Orange has revealed it is considering further European acquisitions in order to strengthen its position among the continents biggest operators.

The Financial Times reports Orange’s European boss Gervais Pellessier as opining that further European consolidation is inevitable and that Orange will want to be part of that process. “Players who are today playing on a single market or near to a single market, might be purchased by those who are bigger,” he said, adding that he considers Orange to be one of those bigger players.

This trend has resulted in all UK and German major operators being already part of ‘bigger’ telcos and Orange has recently ruled out any further moves in Spain. So in Western Europe that leaves operators such as Telecom Italia and Belgacom or even those with limited multinational interests such as KPN and Telenor. However, if consolidation leads to a reduction in the total number of operators in a given country the European Commission may disapprove.

Pellesier also reckons there is further consolidation to be had in France, although Orange won’t be taking the lead. Bloomberg reports he said Iliad/Free needs spectrum, Numericable-SFR need to improve its network and Bouygues is short of cash. “It is difficult to know between Mr. Drahi [Altice/Numericable], Mr. Bouygues or Mr. Niel [Iliad] who will lose his nerve first and decide to sell,” said Pellesier. “Who is the one who will consider he has to move now rather than wait?”

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