August 4, 2014 / 7:25 PM / in 3 years

UPDATE 1-Bouygues says has not received bids for telecoms unit

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PARIS, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Bouygues said on Monday that no third party had made an offer for its telecoms business, days after rival Iliad revealed a surprise $15 billion bid for T-Mobile US.

Bouygues said it issued the comments in response to what it said were “recent statements in the press”.

Iliad has been seen as a catalyst for consolidation among France’s four mobile players to ease the margin erosion and cut-throat competition that has hurt the industry since the arrival of its Free Mobile brand in 2012.

By turning its focus to the United States, Iliad may be less likely to make a domestic deal. Some analysts have also suggested, however, that this could be a tactic to put pressure on Bouygues on its price expectations.

Earlier this year, Iliad made an informal offer to buy Bouygues Telecom, France’s No. 3 mobile carrier, and also took part in talks with Orange about a joint bid, sources told Reuters. Bouygues rejected these overtures on the grounds that the prices floated were too low.

“Bouygues reiterates that Bouygues Telecom is continuing the implementation of its transformation plan announced on June 11, 2014 aimed at securing an independent future,” Bouygues said in a statement on Monday.

“In addition, the group has not received to date any takeover bids for its subsidiary Bouygues Telecom.”

The company could not immediately be reached for further comment.

Bouygues Telecom said in June that it planned to cut 1,516 jobs, or 17 percent of its staff, to reduce costs to ensure its future after prices in the industry had dropped by a third since Iliad’s arrival.

Bouygues Telecom also lost out in a bidding war in April to buy bigger rival SFR. And Orange called off talks toward a possible bid for Bouygues Telecom in early July, saying the conditions were not met for a deal. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Jane Baird)

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