Spanish mobile market could worsen, believes FT CEO

Having seen Vodafone's year-end results dragged down by the lacklustre performance of its Spanish subsidiary, France Telecom (FT) has admitted it, too, is suffering from the same problem, and believes the cell phone market in Spain could become even worse.

The downturn in the Spanish mobile business has been driven by the overall recession, but with the added impact of migrant labourers returning to their homelands as the once booming construction industry collapses. Telefonica has also reported poor results in its home market.

Separately, FT's CEO, Gervais Pellissier, said he had no interest in making a bid for T-Mobile's UK operation, claiming that it wasn't for sale, in his understanding. Adding to this lack of interest, Pellissier said the UK had too many networks and would be happy to see consolidation. However, he warned that any merger would be fraught with problems with the risk the combined company would not manage to retain their customers.

While the company is mired in attempting to gain a majority holding in the Senegalese cell phone operator, Sonatel, and struggling to attract the Egyptian mobile operator ECMS with a better deal, Pellissier stated that the financial markets lacked the stability to launch a mega-bid. Last year FT failed in its attempt to acquire Nordic operator TeliaSonera.

However, this has not stopped FT from further involvement in Africa, with the news that it has made a bid for a Tunisian mobile and fixed-line licence which will involve the installation of network infrastructure as well as providing 2G and 3G services. Turkcell is also bidding for the licence.

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