French mobile market needs mergers, but we won't lead: Orange

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 23, 2014 4:39 AM

PARIS/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - French telecoms operator Orange SA still believes the mobile market needs consolidation, but an executive said on Thursday his company is not prepared to kick-off such a move, three months after it dropped a bid for rival Bouygues SA.

Chief Financial Officer Ramon Fernandez said Orange was open to discussions on possible combinations with other companies in its home market, but for now it was prepared to wait for others to make the first move.

"We are not the ones suffering the most from the absence of consolidation," Fernandez told investors on a conference call to discuss the firm's third-quarter results, adding: "We are not going to lead on this, we will be looking at evolutions."

Orange also cautioned that it expected to see continued declines next year in the average revenue per user (ARPU) it sees from mobile and fixed-line customers in France, but that ARPU would decline at a lower rate than this year.

Third-quarter revenue per user fell to 23.0 euros ($29), on average, from 26.3 euros in the year-earlier quarter. Average revenue per broadband customer slipped to 33.4 euros from 34.1 euros in the third quarter of 2013, the company said.

(Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic in Paris and Eric Auchard in Frankfurt; editing by Keiron Henderson)