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French telecoms stocks rise as regulator re-ignites merger talk

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French telecoms stocks rise as regulator re-ignites merger talk
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PARIS (Reuters) – Shares in France’s telecoms stocks rose on Tuesday, which traders attributed to comments from the head of the country’s telecoms regulator which re-ignited talk of possible mergers within the sector.

Sebastien Soriano, head of France’s Arcep telecoms regulator, told Le Monde newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday that Arcep could be open to consolidation within the sector.

“Regarding the consolidation in the telecoms industry – Arcep’s door is opening,” Soriano told Le Monde.

“But (operators) must have a value-creating project for the country, and not for shareholders only.”

Iliad’s shares rose by 4.4 percent, while the shares of market leader Orange <ORAN.PA> advanced 2.8 percent. Bouygues <BOUY.PA>, which runs Bouygues Telecom, climbed 2.6 percent.

Several attempts to cut the number of French telecoms operators from four two free have failed over the last few years. The last try was in 2016, when Orange failed to acquire Bouygues Telecom.

Arcep published a report earlier on Tuesday that showed that in 2017, French telecom operators had invested an extra 660 million euros (580 million pounds) more than the previous year, for an overall total of 9.6 billion euros.

(Reporting by Blandine Henault and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Mathieu Rosemain)

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