February 14, 2016 / 1:22 PM / 3 years ago

Orange, SFR, Free deal on Bouygues imminent - newspaper

PARIS, Feb 14 (Reuters) - A deal for French telecoms group Orange to take over its rival Bouygues is imminent and a preliminary agreement could be presented on Tuesday when Orange publishes its 2015 earnings, French weekly le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) reported on Sunday.

JDD said Orange was in intense talks with the two other French telecom operators - Free and Numericable SFR - over the weekend with a view to sell to them parts of Bouygues’ assets in order to assure the go-ahead of competition authorities.

Orange was not immediately available for comment, but the JDD quoted the company as saying that nothing would be announced about the deal on Tuesday.

JDD said Free is looking at buying Bouygues’ network and frequencies for about two billion euros.

It also said that Free would take over a large part of Bouygues’ traditional mobile customers and that SFR its “low-cost” subscriptions, while the two would share Bouygues’ Internet customers. In all, Free would spend between 3 to 3.5 billion euros and SFR 2.5 billion on the deals, it reported.

Orange’s chief executive said earlier this month that tie-up talks with Bouygues should conclude by the end of February or early March and reiterated previous declarations that the chances of a deal were 50-50.

Orange is in talks to buy Bouygues Telecom for about 10 billion euros ($11.25 billion) in cash and shares, in a deal which could see Bouygues receive a 15 percent stake in Orange valued at 8 billion euros, and the rest in cash.

The tie-up would reduce the number of mobile operators in France from four to three, creating a new giant with a market share of close to 50 percent in mobile and fixed-line communications. ($1 = 0.8888 euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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