Iliad unlikely to take part in French telecoms consolidation-CEO

PARIS Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:36am EST

PARIS Jan 17 (Reuters) - Low-cost French telecoms firm Iliad is unlikely to take part in any consolidation of the local industry, but sees network sharing as an option to boost operators' earnings, its founder and CEO said in a newspaper interview on Thursday.

Iliad's "Free" service has sparked a price war in France since its arrival last year, leading to speculation about possible deals to consolidate the industry.

One option that has been mooted is for a tie up between Iliad and conglomerate Bouygues' telecoms unit.

"We have years of strong growth ahead of us, consolidation [of the sector] is not likely for us. And Bouygues Telecom is not up for sale. There are no discussions," Xavier Niel told Le Figaro newspaper.

Earlier in January, France's antitrust watchdog opposed a proposal by Iliad and Vivendi to merge their mobile telecoms unit, according to press reports.

Bouygues Telecom, which is hoping to obtain regulatory authorisation to launch 4G mobile services in France, may not be able to get a green light before the second half of the year or even in early 2014, daily Les Echos reported without citing sources.

Bouygues Telecom was not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Elena Berton and Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier; Editing by Mark Potter)