BRUSSELS Dec 4 France Telecom is not
interested in selling its stake in Belgian mobile operator
Mobistar and will not buy out the rest of the company
in which it has a majority stake, its chief executive told
Belgian dailies De Tijd and L'Echo.
The French group owns 52.9 percent of Mobistar. Media
reports have said it may either dispose of its stake, as it has
done with units in Austria and Switzerland, or buy out the rest.
Chief Executive Stephane Richard said that he was glad he
did not take full control of the Belgian group last year,
because of a difficult environment in its French home market.
"That's why buying out the minority shareholders in Mobistar
is not on our agenda today," Richard told De Tijd.
Richard added that he saw no reason to leave Belgium as the
current regulatory environment was favourable.
The Belgian regulator has pushed for operators such as
Mobistar, which do not own a fixed network, to get access to the
networks of Belgacom and Telenet to offer
broadband and TV products.
"France Telecom has been in the Belgian market for 17 years,
we have no plans to leave," Richard said.
Mobistar has struggled in recent quarters, as without access
to a fixed network it found it more difficult to match the
bundled products - which include mobile and fixed telephony,
broadband and TV access - offered by Belgacom and Telenet.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Louise Heavens)