FT Orange attacked by SFR owner for hosting Free Mobile

The impact of Free Mobile on the French mobile market continues unabated as the owner of SFR, Vivendi's CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy, slated FT Orange for providing Free Mobile with favourable network sharing terms.

Vivendi's CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy


This criticism of FT Orange came as Vivendi announced a reduction in dividends together with a profits warning which the company blames largely on losses at SFR, which is struggling to compete with Free Mobile's pricing.

SFR has revealed that it lost 200,000 subscribers during the first two months consumers had access to Free Mobile's service, according to a La Tribune article.

The Vivendi CEO has accused his FT Orange counterpart, Stéphane Richard, of offering "excessively favourable conditions" to Free Mobile for using FT's mobile network, according to a Financial Times report.

Vivendi's Lévy blamed the resulting carnage following this FT Orange/Free Mobile deal on France's telecoms regulator, Arcep, and the government. Without providing details, he threatened possible legal action.

In response, FT Orange said: "The terms of our roaming contract with Free are confidential but were agreed on a normal commercial basis."

In an attempt to fight back, Lévy promised an "action plan" for SFR that would include a "new quality/price positioning" offer from the mobile operator. However, in a Les Echos report, he warned that 2012/2013 would remain difficult for SFR, and investors would have to "wait until 2014 before good growth returns."

For more:
- see this Financial Times article (reg req)
- see this La Tribune article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Les Echos article (translated via Google Translate)

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