February 21, 2018 / 9:40 AM / a year ago

Orange CEO brushes off market speculation about tie-up with Deutsche Telekom

PARIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - French telecoms group Orange has no plans to merge with a rival in Germany or expand in another country in Africa, chief executive Stephane Richard said on Wednesday.

Merger talks took place last year between the former monopoly and Deutsche Telekom but fizzled out because it was not feasible to put the companies on an equal footing, a source said in January.

That January report had moved shares and fuelled new market speculation about Orange’s appetite for mergers and acquisition (M&A) deals.

“There is no hidden agenda, there is no hidden project, there is no hidden negotiation with anybody,” Richard told analysts.

“Neither with the Germans, nor with the Africans, nor with anybody else,” he added.

Richard also ruled out the possibility that Orange could lead the potential new round of talks between French telecom operators, to cut the number of players from four to three.

Orange led the last attempt to consolidate the French market through a complex deal under which it would have bought Bouygues’ telecoms unit and sell some of its parts to rivals Iliad and Altice

“What is sure is that Orange will not play a forefront in any kind of consolidation scheme,” he said.

“There will not be a new round of Orange-to-Bouygues consolidation. I don’t believe this. We are clearly in two totally separate ways today.” (Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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