Orange has confirmed that it has renewed preliminary discussions with telecoms-to-construction conglomerate Bouygues Group to take over the latter’s telecom unit.
Orange specified that the discussions are not limited by any calendar deadline and do not involve any commitments to a pre-defined outcome.
“The Group is exploring the opportunities available within the French telecoms market, while keeping in mind that its investments and its solid position afford it a total independence in its approach,” said Orange.
“Orange will act solely in the interests of its shareholders, its employees and its customers and will be particularly vigilant with regards to the value created through any resulting project.”
Bouygues also issued a statement confirming that it was in talks with Orange. The company said that its telecoms unit’s growth plan was on track and that it remained “convinced that its activity in telecoms creates value for the future in the context of the rapid development of ultra high-speed mobile and fixed [networks]”. It said that it had entered the talks to explore all potential opportunities and that the negotiations were subject to a confidentiality agreement.
A deal would combine Orange, the leading mobile operator in France with Bouygues Telecom, which is vying for the number three slot with rival Free. Both Orange and Bouygues Telecom offer a range of fixed and mobile services, including TV.
France’s Journal du Dimanche, which first reported the talks on Sunday, said that the pair are discussing a deal that would see Orange pay €8 billion in shares and €2 billion in cash for Bouygues Telecom and Bouygues proprietor Martin Bouygues is seeking two seats on Orange’s board including one for himself.
A deal would likely involve the cession of some part of Bouiygues Telecom’s network, most likely to Free, to secure regulatory approval.