Orange could be lining up France's Treasury chief, Ramon Fernandez, as its next chief financial officer, reports say, as CEO Stéphane Richard looks for new blood to help him improve the company's competitive position during his second term in office.
The proposed €17 billion ($23 billion) deal to merge Numericable with SFR to create a new fixed and mobile powerhouse in France will come under the regulatory scrutiny of France rather than the European Commission. At the same time, the French government said it will continue to pursue consolidation in the telecoms sector and has asked Orange to seek alliances in Europe.
Vivendi's decision this week to sell French telecoms unit SFR to Altice in a deal worth around €17 billion ($23 billion) opens up questions about the future of Bouygues Telecom, with market watchers continuing to predict that the company will end up in the arms of rival Iliad.
Bouygues tendered a third bid to acquire rival French mobile operator SFR on Friday--the day the board of SFR parent Vivendi board is expected to vote on a competing offer from Altice after three weeks of exclusive negotiations with the company.
Orange's board of directors has renewed CEO Stephane Richard's tenure, after apparently heeding a warning about destabilising the company if he was replaced.
Orange impressed the markets on Thursday with better than expected forecasts for its margin and core profits in 2014, although the French operator emphasised the figures will partly be achieved through continued cost cutting.
After months of speculation and rumour, the battle for SFR has finally begun. Vivendi announced late on Wednesday that it had received binding offers for the French mobile and fixed operator from both Numericable shareholder Altice and the Bouygues group.
Bouygues Telecom has reportedly entered the race to buy rival operator SFR, and has hired two investment banks to advise it on a possible tie-up.
Bouygues Telecom has launched the latest salvo in the French market, introducing a new low-cost fixed line package for €19.99 ($27.46) that the operator sells in combination with its mobile plans.
There has been an acceleration in moves by operators to address the thorny problem of voice and data roaming charges throughout the European Union, although there currently seems little likelihood that such efforts will stop the European Commission's Neelie Kroes from implementing her plans to abolish roaming charges completely.