Rumour Mill: Will France Telecom bid for C&W?

While some financial analysts remained skeptically, others wanted to believe the long-rumoured tale that France Telecom (FT) was again casting its acquisitive eye over Cable & Wireless (C&W).

The UK-based company, which owns many fixed and mobile properties in far-flung outposts of the former British Empire, reported strong interim results last week with a number of the senior executives making very public purchases of the company's stock.

Having posted a profit of £134m for the six months to the end of September, compared to an income of £58m a year earlier, the company was bullish with regard to the success of its ongoing restructuring and cost cutting strategy. The firm declared costs of £11 million associated with the programme of turning around its operations in Europe, Asia and the US.

While both companies denied any merger talks, FT is known to be on the lookout for acquisitions and has recently emerged as the preferred bidder for a 51 percent stake in the incumbent Kenyan operator, Telkom Kenya, for a price of €270 million.

Telkom Kenya serves over 280,000 fixed line customers and is also expected to pick up a new mobile license.

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