Orange close to deal with SFR, Iliad on Bouygues Telecom assets

People walk past a sign of French telecom operator Orange hanging from a bridge in Cairo, Egypt March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

PARIS (Reuters) - Orange ORAN.PA Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard said on Wednesday that he was about to reach an agreement with rivals SFR NUME.PA and Iliad ILD.PA on the dividing up of Bouygues Telecom's BOUY.PA assets.

That agreement is key for the success of the current merger talks between Orange and Bouygues Telecom, as any deal would require Orange to sell some of Bouygues Telecom’s assets to rivals to ease competition concerns.

“These talks are nearly completed,” Richard said on the sidelines of a press event in Paris. “I think we roughly agree on the major points of this dividing up.”

Orange and Bouygues Telecom have officially resumed talks since January. The 10 billion euro potential transaction would cut the number of French telecoms operators from four to three and would see Bouygues become Orange’s second-biggest shareholder after the French state.

“This is an important step, but only one of the steps” needed for the deal to succeed, Richard said. He confirmed that the end of March was the deadline set to reach a global agreement on the acquisition of Bouygues Telecom.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by James Regan