Nokia, Orange and Bouygues get 2016 off to a flying start

The wrapping has only just come off the new and shiny year that is 2016, and already Europe's telecoms market is setting the pace for what looks to be another eventful 12 months ahead.

Nokia barely allowed us to recover from our New Year's Eve celebrations before telling us that the protracted process of buying Alcatel-Lucent is almost over. The "new" combined company is expected to start operations in earnest from next week.

Then Orange and Bouygues finally admitted that yes, they are in talks on a possible consolidation, despite weeks of denial. Nothing has been agreed, of course, but the admission of talks has already sparked speculation on how this will or will not benefit the French mobile market, which is now indelibly marked by the price war sparked by Free Mobile. It's also, as yet, far from clear whether Brussels or Paris would oversee the regulatory scrutiny of any eventual deal.

Thus M&A remains firmly on this year's agenda, although at least now the Nokia-Alca-Lu deal is one that finally seems to have cleared all hurdles. How successful the combined venture will be remains to be seen.

Other deals also remain on the table, such as CK Hutchison's plan to buy O2 UK and Wind Italy. The planned acquisition of EE by BT is also still far from completion, but one thing is now for sure: Olaf Swantee will be stepping down from his role as EE CEO once the deal does go through.

That so much has happened in only the first two days of the first working week of the year in Europe is a strong indication that 2016 is set to be another landmark year for the industry. Whatever happens, we will be there to keep you up to date on the latest news and developments in the EMEA region.

Wishing you all a very happy and successful 2016!--Anne

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