France Telecom (FT) CEO Stephane Richard dismissed industry speculation that the joint owners of Everything Everywhere (EE) are prepared to sell the UK's largest operator.
"We have a JV with Deutsche Telekom in the UK," Richard told Les Echos. "We are happy with what it does, we are happy with its operation, we are happy with its management, we have no problem with this JV."
Commenting on the likelihood of former EE CEO Tom Alexander raising adequate funds to make a bid for EE, Richard said no offer had been made, and that this was all "much ado about nothing."
While reinforcing the owner's lack of interest in selling EE, Richard said: "If there is a project put before us that makes sense, of course, we'll look at it. But that does not mean we will accept it. As of today, Everything Everywhere is not for sale, neither from our side, the Germans, or both," according to Les Echos.
Richard also reassured the market that, despite the turbulent times being experienced by some European mobile operators, the French operator and its partner Deutsche Telekom have the means to meet their investment needs in the UK. "We are not in dire straits financially," he said, stressing that the JV in itself, had no debt.
On source familiar with private equity funds told Reuters last week that it would be near impossible to finance an EE deal in the current market. European banks are increasingly wary of funding deals over £1 billion as they attempt to cut back on lending.
Separately, EE has announced it will pay a bonus dividend of £250 million to Deutsche Telekom and FT as evidence that the business is finally generating cash, according to the Financial Times. Further EE payments are considered likely given that the operator paid total dividends of £693 million in 2011.
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