The new private equity owner of Orange Switzerland is said to be interested in partnering with rival Swiss mobile operator Sunrise.
Having signed a €1.5 billion deal to acquire France Telecom's Swiss subsidiary just before Christmas, the UK-based private equity firm Apax Partners is now thought to be considering a link with competitor Sunrise Communications, according to a Dow Jones report.
Of note, CVC, the private equity owners of Sunrise, was excluded by France Telecom from bidding for Orange Switzerland, having not been provided with details of the transaction despite its interest in attempting to merge the two mobile operator businesses.
CVC was reported to have held discussions with other bidders about a potential merger prior to the eventual sale to Apax Partners. Firms that made offers for the France Telecom subsidiary included private equity groups EQT, Providence and Doughty Hanson, as well as a bid from the French telecoms firm Iliad, who had teamed with Goldman Sachs.
However, any plans to merge the Orange Switzerland and Sunrise mobile operations would likely encounter stiff resistance from the Swiss regulators unless substantial concessions were made. An earlier attempt by France Telecom to merge Orange and Sunrise in 2010 was blocked by regulators.
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