France Telecom Searching for Swiss-Business Exit After Failed Sunrise Deal

France Telecom SA (FTE), the nation’s largest phone company, is seeking a buyer for its Swiss business more than a year after regulators blocked a deal to merge the unit with a rival.

The board will decide on a sale after weighing the quality of the offers, the Parisian company said today in a statement. The Swiss division, which had about 1.7 million mobile clients last year, may fetch about 1.4 billion euros ($2 billion) based on preliminary estimates, WestLB analyst Tarkan Cinar said.

Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard is reviewing France Telecom’s European investments and looking for new assets in Africa as growth in the telecommunications market slows in developed countries. The review will focus on operators in which France Telecom has only a minority stake, such as those in Portugal and Austria.

Swiss antitrust authorities stopped a planned merger last year between Orange Switzerland and Sunrise, then owned by TDC A/S, that would have left the country of 8 million with two mobile operators. Swisscom AG, which is majority-owned by the Swiss government, is the country’s largest operator.

Separately, Richard said today that France Telecom would consider acquisitions in Spain, where the company already operates, if they are available. In addition to Telefonica SA (TEF) and Vodafone Group Plc, TeliaSonera AB (TLSN) operates in Spain through its Yoigo unit.

Photographer: Fabrice Dimier/Bloomberg

The France Telecom SA logo is displayed at the company's headquarters in Paris. Close

The France Telecom SA logo is displayed at the company's headquarters in Paris.

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Photographer: Fabrice Dimier/Bloomberg

The France Telecom SA logo is displayed at the company's headquarters in Paris.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Campbell in Paris at mcampbell39@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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