Orange and Bouygues downplay latest acquisition rumours

Both Orange and Bouygues have issued statements that distance themselves from a report that they’re in acquisition talks, but fall short of outright denial.

The report in question came from Bloomberg, which also wrote a report last week linking Orange and Telecom Italia in some kind of M&A manoeuvre, which Orange rejected.

Orange’s statement this time was a bit more nuanced, but still designed to distance itself from the story. “Orange cannot comment on press rumours that have been artificially driving the market for the past two years,” said the operator in a statement to “In France, Orange is the telecoms operator that has the least need for consolidation.”

While the first part of the statement is pretty generic, the second part indicates Orange can see little point in a domestic acquisition. According to Ovum’s WCIS Orange remains the clear market leader in France with a 39% share of mobile subscribers. Bouygues would give it another 16% but there would presumably be a fair bit of regulatory resistance to one operator being so dominant.

And even if it resolved that issue Bouygues would still need to be willing to sell, which it continues to indicate is not the case. “Bouygues states that it has no plans to withdraw from the telecoms and television sectors and reaffirms its long-term presence in these two industries.” Said the company in a press statement today, presumably catalysed by the Bloomberg report.

While it remains distinctly possible that Orange will move to strengthen its position in Europe in some way, Bloomberg’s sources seem to somewhat speculative at the moment. Having said that if they keep going at this rate they’re almost certain to be right sooner or later.

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