France Left Out of ‘Four-to-Three’ Club of Mobile Consolidation

Bouygues SA rebuffing billionaire Patrick Drahi means France is being kept out of the growing list of European countries that have consolidated their mobile-phone industry to three competitors from four.

Bouygues on Tuesday rejected Drahi’s bid for Bouygues Telecom, saying it can revive profit alone while a sale would face antitrust hurdles and risk jobs. A combination of Bouygues Telecom with Drahi’s phone and cable unit Numericable-SFR would have created a bigger entity to compete with Orange SA and Iliad SA.

The attached map shows the largest European wireless markets. Click on the star to see local information about mergers.

Revenue generated from mobile services in France fell 7 percent in 2014, reaching its lowest level since at least 2008, according to data from the French communications regulator.

A combination of Numericable-SFR and Bouygues would have created a company with more than 30 million wireless subscribers, potentially overtaking Orange to become the market leader by mobile customer numbers. The merged entity’s annual revenue would top 15 billion euros.

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