Orange says consolidation in France “will happen one day”, as Bouygues denies latest rumour

Orange

Bouygues Telecom and Orange have denied another media report that they are engaged in merger talks.

The operators were responding to an article in the magazine La Lettre de L'Expansion, which claimed Bouygues CEO Martin Bouygues had met his counterpart at Orange to discuss a deal.

La Lettre de L'Expansion is ultimately owned by Altice, which in turn owns SFR.

An Orange spokesperson told European Communications that it was not talking to Bouygues.

For its part, Bouygues put out a statement that said it “categorically denies the existence of any discussions with other operators with a view to consolidating the French telecoms market”.

However, the Orange spokesperson also said that the company believes consolidation in France “will happen one day”.

The latest denial comes six short months after the last one, which again surfaced in an SFR-owned publication.

Orange and Bouygues did admit to official merger talks in January last year, but they ended in failure in April.

The latest rumours have come about just weeks after France’s telcos released their financial reports for 2016.

Orange saw sales decline one percent in France last year, to €19 billion, while Bouygues registered a six percent jump, to €4.8 billion.

Bouygues also posted profits of €83 million, after making a loss of €59 million in 2015, having added over 1.3 million more customers.

Both remain threatened by Groupe Iliad, which saw sales jump seven percent to €4.7 billion.

The company has now captured 18 percent of France’s mobile market and surpassed SFR to become the country’s second largest broadband provider.

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