It is above all a “great regret”. Friday night, at Orange, “one hissed the end of discussions” on the acquisition of Bouygues Telecom, not without some bitterness. “The negotiations were very complicated between the four actors [operators, Ed] over the state, indicates L’Express a close case. Despite this, we managed to solve a large part of the deal . But there were obvious sticking points. ”
A close agreement, but four major problems
First and foremost of which is asset allocation . For example, Iliad, the parent of Free, did not want the whole architecture of the Bouygues network. “They wanted the locations of antennas, but not antennas”, and illustrates our source. Nothing that this was “a big problem”.
Another concern, sharing agreements between different networks . “between SFR and Free, the discussion was sometimes complicated.” Some actors even think that Free could not have played the game thoroughly. “Xavier Niel has not stopped adding conditions,” said the same source.
Third brake, “risk execution “. if initial agreement, all parties had to rely on the competition Authority that would have given the” go “or partially. But no one could know in advance the result of the authorities’ investigation. “it would have taken months, says one still in one of the operators. And in case of partial agreement, it should include clauses. “Problem, Free and SFR, which were also redeem Bouygues assets, were concerned about the consequences of a veto for the continuation of their activities. Orange had to endorse a big part of the risk. too random, too risky in the end.
Martin Bouygues “did not give a penny”
Finally, remained to set the thorny issue of price . “Martin Bouygues came to the table asking 10 billion euros,” said one negotiator, thus taking the amount of the offer by SFR -Numericable (owned by Patrick Drahi, shareholder of L’Express) in June 2015.. Problem: “he did not give a penny” however, both parties agreed on the logic of a stake Bouygues in the capital of Orange.
But here it is the state that was heard her little music. According to another source quoted by AFP earlier in the day “state wanted the Orange shares are valued at a price higher than the market by imposing strict conditions regarding share ownership Bouygues”. The difficult conditions acceptable to the industry group that has decided to throw in the towel Friday.
Review this endless soap opera that lasted 3 months? “We will stay four, market consolidation prospects are now very limited,” explains L’Express spokesman Orange. On the side of the incumbent, it shows the will to “continue investments, especially in fiber and 4G. For the others, we’ll see how it will happen …”