Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

Orange Sees 'Socially Acceptable' Bouygues Deal Within Weeks

  • Deputy CEO Pellissier seeks to satisfy antitrust regulators
  • `An argument between four people is always more difficult'

Orange SA’s talks to acquire Bouygues Telecom in France have been complicated by the number of parties involved but should be completed within weeks, according to a top Orange executive.

“We don’t want a deal in the air forever, it isn’t good for anyone,” Orange Deputy Chief Executive Officer Gervais Pellissier told Bloomberg Television on Monday in Barcelona, where he was attending Mobile World Congress. “Within a few weeks, we should be good with this.”

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Orange, France’s former phone monopoly, is seeking to buy Bouygues Telecom in a transaction that could be valued at as much as 10 billion euros ($11 billion). The deal, which would reduce the number carriers in the country to three from four, is being scrutinized by regulators who are concerned with competition and the impact on consumers. Some of the discussions involve rivals Iliad SA and Numericable-SFR SAS who would purchase some assets of the combined company to address antitrust concerns.

“An argument between four people is always more difficult than between two people,” Pellissier said. “We want a deal that’s socially acceptable, and a deal that’s acceptable to antitrust authorities.”

Orange said last week that the talks were proving difficult and that it would take several weeks to agree on a structure. The company had been aiming to announce the deal alongside its Feb. 16 earnings, people familiar with the matter said last month. The company said on Jan. 5 that it was in talks to buy the Bouygues business.

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