France Telecom seeks network sharing deals, mulls asset sales

France Telecom CEO Stéphane Richard said the company is looking to sign more network sharing agreements as part of its efforts to boost revenues across the group's European operations. The CEO also confirmed that he had instigated a strategic review of the group's European assets to better understand where France Telecom could achieve growth.

"Our European portfolio needs to be more efficient. In some countries there is no growth," Richard said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. He added that this might mean exiting certain countries where it has operations. Austria, Switzerland and Belgium are among the countries where the group could decide to either sell its stakes in local operators or boost its presence to try to earn more money, he said.

"We have entered into a difficult phase," Richard said in an interview with the WSJ. "Our economic model in Europe is under pressure."

Commenting on how he might improve the financial performance of the company, Richard said that he wants to move forward by partnering with other European operators. He pointed to the likelihood of a deal with Deutsche Telekom to share network infrastructure and joint equipment procurement, and the potential to co-operate on research and development activities. However, he warned that no plan existed for any merger with the giant German operator.

In a slight contradiction to this, Richard added that he thinks there will be consolidation among European telecom operators over the next few years as businesses reined back investments and expenses.

For more:
- see the WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Telecompaper article

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