Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Vivendi SA and Bouygues SA agreed to share part of their French mobile-phone networks, allowing each other to cover more ground for less money.
Vivendi’s phone company SFR and its competitor Bouygues Telecom said in a joint e-mailed statement they’ll share antennas covering 57 percent of the French population. The companies, which started talks six months ago on the plan, aim to complete the network-share by the end of 2017.
European carriers have turned to sharing networks as one way to cut back on investments amid shrinking phone bills. In one of the major moves of this type in Europe, Deutsche Telekom AG and Orange SA in 2010 set up a joint venture in the U.K. under the brand EE to cut costs by combining their local networks and purchasing activities.
In France, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and the former monopoly Orange have fought to keep clients from switching to low-cost offers after Iliad SA started selling discounted mobile packages in 2012, prompting price wars that have persisted since. Carriers are attempting to boost prices by selling subscriptions including faster 4G wireless Internet.
Vivendi is preparing a spinoff of SFR as part of a strategy shift to refocus on media, music and broadcasting. Listing SFR as an independent entity may make the unit an easier acquisition target and encourage consolidation in France, Bloomberg Industries analysts Erhan Gurses and John Butler wrote in a note.
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