France biggest telecoms operator, Orange, is reportedly inching towards an agreement to buy Bouygues Telecom from its construction group parent company.
The French daily Les Echos reports complex discussions are making good progress.
The deal would cut the number of main telecoms operators in France from four to three.
And the complication is that to get approval from competition regulators some assets would have to be sold to the other big two players in France, Iliad – which runs Free – and Numericable-SFR.
“On these issues, talks have advanced and a deal is almost done with Patrick Drahi’s SFR and Xavier Niel’s Free,” Les Echos said, citing a source close to the matter.
Iliad would take on fewer assets than had been initially expected and possibly no mobile clients, the paper added.
Last week, in an interview with Reuters, Iliad’s Chief Financial Officer Thomas Reynaud said: “The talks are going on. They are complex on operational and industrial aspects.”
Iliad, Orange, Bouygues and Numericable-SFR declined comment on the report in Les Echos.
There is a self imposed deadline to reach agreement by the end of March.
Les Echos further reported that 95 percent of Bouygues Telecom workers have told their unions they want to end up working for Orange rather than Iliad’s Free or Numericable-SFR.
A trade union delegation went to the French Finance Ministry on Monday (14 March) to deliver that message.