Bouygues in the arms of Orange: the key dates for the concentration of telecoms

by bold-lichterman

The marriage between Orange and Bouygues Telecom is in the process of being done, believes the JDD. The two operators would have reached an agreement before Christmas on a confidentiality agreement which should lead in three months to the takeover of the telecommunications activities of the construction group. To get their hands on the Bouygues Telecom house, Orange would spend 10 billion euros, including 8 billion which would be paid in shares, specifies the weekly. Martin Bouygues would become the second largest shareholder in the incumbent, after the State, which holds 23%.

In exchange, and so as not to disrupt the sector which has been heading towards new concentration since the arrival of Free in 2012, Orange would cede antennas and frequencies to SFR (Altice group) and Free. Altice-Numericable had tried a first approach in 2014 to get its hands on Bouygues which posted a net loss of 41 million euros over the year. Orange will therefore finally have the last word, while Bouygues had officially indicated “not to leave the telecoms (and television) sectors” at the beginning of December.

Within three months, if the negotiations are concluded, the number of operators in France will increase to three. They will, with their MVNO, capture a market of 71.8 million SIM cards in the third quarter of 2015 in France, including 69.6 million active, according to ARCEP. MVNOs have 7.5 million SIM cards.

From the opening of the market to the concentration of an ultra-regulated sector, here are some key dates, including those given by ARCEP.

1987: Compagnie Générale des Eaux creates SFR and becomes “the initial player in the liberalization of the mobile market”.

1994: The Bouygues group creates its telecom subsidiary

August 2000: France Telecom buys Orange from Vodafone and takes control in 2003.

2005: the SFR-Cegetel group disappears on the occasion of the merger between its subsidiary Cegetel and Neuf Telecom, now Neuf Cegetel.

May 2008: SFR launches a takeover bid for Neuf Cegetel in order to create a new group.

2008: In addition to its cable operator activity, Numéricable Group is pooling the Numéricable and Completel networks with a view to positioning itself in telephony and the mobile offer in 2011.

January 2012: Free enters the telephony market

2013: Vivendi operates a split separating its media and telecoms activities in order to give SFR “greater strategic freedom and partnership”.

March 2014 : Vivendi receives two offers concerning the takeover of SFR, one from Altice and the other from the Bouygues group.

May 2014: Numericable enters into exclusive negotiations with OMEA Telecom for the purchase of MVNO Virgin Mobile.

October 2014: The Competition Authority authorizes, subject to conditions, the buyout of SFR by Numericable, finalized in November for 13 billion euros.

June 2015: Numericable-SFR announces that Altice has made an offer to buy back Bouygues Telecom.

December 2015: Bouygues denies any exit from its telecoms activities, but at the end of the month, a confidentiality agreement was signed with Orange, with a view to a sale scheduled for spring 2016.