France Telecom mulls TeliaSonera take-over

France Telecom is considering taking over Sweden's TeliaSonera through a share swap. The move could rekindle a wave of consolidation in the European sector, Le Figaro newspaper said. The move would make France Telecom Europe's third largest for fixed and mobile services operator by market value (at €78.5 billion), behind Deutsche Telekom. It would give the French incumbent access to Nordic markets and Turkey.

The company would still lag Telefonica, which has media activities and properties in Latin America, the report said. Investors are pushing Telecom Italia to merge with Telefonica, which has an indirect 10% stake in the Italian operator.

A Reuters report said a spokeswoman for France Telecom, which trades under the Orange brand, had no immediate comment. In Stockholm, a spokeswoman for TeliaSonera also refused to comment, as did the Swedish government.

Le Figaro said France Telecom was weighing the take-over of its Nordic peer with the French government: the state holds a stake in the former monopoly, which would be diluted by the deal.

A Nordic banker said his bank had studied such a tie-up, but concluded that it did not make real industrial sense.