Orange CEO says EU authorities are open to pan-European telecoms mergers

FILE PHOTO: The logo of telecom company Orange is seen inside a bubble at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - The European Union's top antitrust policymaker, Margrethe Vestager, is open to the idea of pan-European mergers in the telecoms market, Orange's ORAN.PA boss Stéphane Richard said on Wednesday.

Richard said he met Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, along with his counterpart at Deutsche Telekom DTEGn.DE last Monday. Her tough approach toward competition rules led to the collapse of several mergers and the creation of new players in several national telecoms markets.

“We should not expect any major inflexion in the EU commission’s approach toward in-market consolidation,” Richard told analysts in Paris.

“But at the same time, she told us very clearly that she was very strongly in favor of network sharing and network consolidation, which is a form of consolidation.”

He added: “The second point is that she told us that everything that is pan-European will be strongly supported by the EU Commission.”

Richard reiterated there were no talks of any kind going on with Deutsche Telekom over a potential merger, following renewed market rumors for such a deal.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta