Orange CEO says French mobile consolidation is 'urgent'

PARIS Wed May 28, 2014 1:07pm EDT

The logo of French telecom operator Orange is seen during the company's 2013 annual results presentation in Paris March 6, 2014.   REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

The logo of French telecom operator Orange is seen during the company's 2013 annual results presentation in Paris March 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

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PARIS (Reuters) - The chief executive of French telecom group Orange (ORAN.PA) said on Thursday that there was urgent need to consolidate the local mobile market and that movement could come in the coming weeks.

"It is urgent after the deal that was signed between SFR and Numericable," said Stephane Richard in an interview with French radio BFM on Wednesday.

"If something is to happen, it will happen in the coming weeks," he predicted.

Orange recently acknowledged that it was examining what role it could play in such deal-making, and sources earlier told Reuters that it has held informal talks with third-place mobile operator Bouygues Telecom (BOUY.PA).

France's economy minister also confirmed last week that Orange and Bouygues were in talks. Orange later said in a statement that it believed consolidation "would be positive in the long term for both investment and for the consumer."

(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Andrew Callus)

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