Reports: Orange eying Bouygues bid, open to EE IPO

|By:, SA News Editor

Reuters reports Orange (ORAN) has hired Lazard and Credit Suisse to weigh a bid for rival French mobile carrier Bouygues Telecom, and that the deal price could top €6B ($8.2B).

The report comes after Vivendi agreed to sell SFR (another French carrier) to cable giant Altice, spurning a Bouygues bid in the process. Bouygues, which has a network-sharing deal with SFR, was later reported to be discussing a merger with upstart carrier Iliad, which for now is relying on Orange's network (talk about a tangled web).

The French government has been interested in cutting the number of local mobile carriers to 3, but EU regulators might be less keen on the idea. Its pending ruling on Telefonica's concession-laden deal to acquire rival German carrier E-Plus could signal where it stands.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has reported Orange and Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) might revive IPO plans for jointly-owned U.K. carrier EE (has 28M subs) after this summer. Orange and DT called off a planned IPO for the U.K.'s biggest carrier in January.