Orange (ORAN) "has examined the possibilities of participating in an operation that would lead to consolidation in the French telecoms market, and believes that it cannot pursue this avenue at the present time as the conditions that the Group has set have not been met."
A source tells Reuters rival Bouygues (BOUYY -2.2%) was seeking too high of a price, and that 3-way talks that also included upstart carrier Iliad (to soothe antitrust concerns) are over.
Investors were hoping Orange would strike a deal cutting the number of French mobile carriers to 3, and in doing so cool off an intense price war launched by Iliad. The French government (owns 27% of Orange) backed the effort.
Previous: Orange falls on report of stalled Bouygues/Iliad talks
General Electric (GE) is in talks with nuclear-plant manufacturer Areva (ARVCF) and other French companies about asset sales or partnerships as the U.S. conglomerate looks to persuade France's government to support its bid for Alstom's (ALSMY) energy operations, Bloomberg reports.
Meanwhile, Siemens (SI) could formally make a rival offer this week in which it would swap its rail business for Alstom's power assets, Reuters reports. The companies would also create a JV in rail signalling, while Siemens could offer to divest Alstom's wind and nuclear-power interests to Areva.
However, Alstom wants cash and supports GE's bid, and although it is interested in strengthening its presence in rail signaling, it doesn't want to add to its rolling stock.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has signed a decree that extends the state's powers to block foreign takeovers to the energy, water, transport, telecoms and health sectors, with any acquisition in what the government now considers to be "strategic" industries needing the approval of the Economy Minister.
The move adds to the government's authority to prevent deals in the nuclear, encryption and vaccines fields.
It will also give France more say in the potential sale of Alstom's (ALSMY) energy assets to GE (GE) or Siemens (SI). French Economy Minster Arnaud Montebourg has criticized the GE proposal and advocated a deal with Siemens.
The risk is that foreign investors could be further put off from doing business in France at a time that the economy is stagnating.
French President Francois Hollande doesn't oppose GE's (GE) proposal to acquire Alstom's (ALSMY) energy assets, Bloomberg reports.
Hollande's view is different from that of Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, who supports a deal in which Alstom would swap its energy operations for some of Siemens' (SI) rail business.
Hollande and GE CEO Jeff Immelt held talks in Paris today in a meeting that focused on protecting jobs and ensuring that France’s nuclear industry remains independent. Hollande is due to meet Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser and Chairman Gerhard Cromme as well.
GE argues that its proposal would lead to fewer job cuts, as it has smaller overlaps with Alstom, while Siemens is willing to make guarantees about jobs and executive positions.
Meanwhile, Germany's government hopes Siemens wins out, Reuters reports, believing that it would be a great opportunity for France and Germany.
Siemens is also willing to meet or even top an offer from GE (GE) for Alstom's energy assets that values the French group at $13B, and it has made guarantees about jobs, management positions and locations.
Siemens would consider a straight purchase of Alstom's energy business as well; either way, the German company has the backing of the French government, although GE's bid might encounter less EU regulatory opposition.
GE CEO Jeff Immelt is set to meet French President Francois Hollande and Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg today to discuss Alstom. Immelt was due to meet Montebourg yesterday, but the latter postponed the talks.
GE (GE) CEO Jeff Immelt is due to meet French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg today to discuss the company's possible bid for Alstom's (ALSMY) energy assets. The deal could be announced tomorrow.
Although the state doesn't have a stake in Alstom, the company is considered a national champion, while the government wants guarantees about jobs, especially with unemployment so high.
To make any deal more palatable, it would exclude Alstom's transport business, which produces the iconic TGV train.
The transaction has the support of Bouygues (BOUYF), Bloomberg reports. Bouygues owns 29% of Alstom.
Meanwhile, the news-wire service compares GE's bid for Alstom with its ill-fated $53B attempt to acquire Honeywell 13 years ago in a deal that floundered on EU antitrust opposition. GE's success in receiving authorization for its acquisition of Italian aerospace company Avio last year shows "that it is able to work with regulators," says Brussels lawyer Paul McGeown.
Le Parisien reports upstart French carrier Iliad is in talks to buy rival Bouygues' (BOUYY) mobile ops in a deal whose price tag could range from €5B-€8B.
The report comes after Vivendi spurned a Bouygues bid for SFR in favor of a €17B+ offer from Altice/Numericable. Prior to Vivendi's decision, Bouygues had struck a deal to sell assets to Iliad (in order to appease regulators) in the event of a successful bid.
Orange (ORAN +1.6%) is trading higher. An Iliad/Bouygues deal would lower the number of French mobile carriers to three. At the same time, it would give Iliad, which currently depends on a wholesale deal with Orange to provide services, with its own network.
Iliad has been grabbing share and pressuring the margins of rivals with the help of a business model featuring aggressive pricing and the use of its broadband customers' Internet gateways as public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Vivendi (VIVEF) has decided to sell its SFR unit to Luxembourg-based cable and mobile provider Altice despite Bouygues sweetening its offer for the mobile business at the last minute.
Altice will pay €14.25B in cash and give Vivendi a 20% stake in a company that will be created via the merger of SFR and Altice's French Numericable subsidiary. The whole deal is worth over €17B ($23.3B), above the €16-16.5B that Bouygues bid.
In addition, Vivendi believes that selling SFR to Altice "presents the lowest competition risk."
Bouygues (BOUYY) has increased the cash component of its of bid for Vivendi's (VIVEF) SFR to €15B ($20.6B) from €13.15B in a deal valued at €16B, or up to €16.5B including an "earn-out clause."
Vivendi would also receive 10% of a new company that would be formed from a merger between SFR and Bouygues Telecom.
Vivendi's supervisory board is meeting today to decide whether to finalize a deal with its preferred bidder, Altice, which has made a bid valued at €20B including debt. Altice has offered €11.75B to merge its Numericable unit with SFR, with Vivendi to get 32% in the combined firm. Bouygues' bid could re-open the process.
Bouygues (BOUYY) has extended its revised offer for Vivendi's (VIVHY) French mobile telephone unit SFR by two and a half weeks until April 25 and said it would pay a breakup fee of €500M ($690M) if regulators block a merger of Bouygues Telecom with SFR.
Bouygues' action comes after it sweetened its offer last month in response to Vivendi choosing to conduct exclusive negotiations over SFR with Luxembourg-based cable and mobile provider Altice.
Bouygues has offered €13.15B for SFR and for Vivendi to receive a 21.5% stake in the combined Bouygues Telecom-SFR. Altice has bid €11.75B to merge its Numericable unit with SFR, with Vivendi to get 32% in the combined firm.
French Industry minister Arnaud Montebourg believes that Vivendi (VIVHY, VIVEF) prefers Numericable's bid for its SFR mobile unit over an offer from conglomerate Bouygues (BOUYY).
However, there are concerns about a potential Numericable victory, Montebourg says, including the small size of the company relative to SFR, its debt, and its offshore ownership structure. Numericable's ulitmate owner, billionaire Patrick Drahi, controls the company via Luxembourg-based Altice.
Montebourg prefers the Bouygues offer, as the company has pledged not to cut jobs.
Vivendi's board was due to meet today to discuss the rival offers, which both value SFR at over $20B.
French conglomerate Bouygues (BOUYY) has agreed to sell part of its network and wireless spectrum to smaller French competitor Iliad for up to €1.8B ($2.5B) if Bouygues succeeds in its efforts to merge its mobile phone unit with Vivendi (VIVHY, VIVEF) subsidiary SFR.
The asset sale would be part of Bouygues' attempts to assuage antitrust concerns in France about the cellular deal.
Bouygues faces competition for SFR from Amsterdam-listed Altice, which doesn't face the same antitrust hurdles as Bouygues.
Maybe even more than the commodities themselves, Chinese demand is causing a boom in Australian infrastructure needed to move the stuff. Planned projects will nearly double global coal trade over the next decade and add more than 50% to seaborne iron ore. "This is about the urbanization of India and China," says Leighton's (Oz's biggest builder) CEO.