Deal Between Orange and Bouygues Collapses

Ramon Fernandez the CFO of Orange SA took to Twitter after the talks with Orange to acquire the Bouygues SA phone business collapsed.

He tweeted that following three months of intense diplomacy the talks had fallen apart.

The previous night, after the markets had been closed for the weekend, the two companies called the talks off giving up hope of reaching a deal.

Following a weekend where investors became very nervous, the stocks on Monday opened with huge declines.

The deal was going to consolidate the phone industry in France. Success prior to a deadline of April 3 that had been self-imposed would have eased some pressure off Orange, the former phone monopoly in France and still the largest player in the market.

Orange along with Bouygues have been battling Iliad another provider in a price war after Iliad introduced its low-cost wireless service in the country

Now, with the talks having ended, the telephone market is split amongst four players, which has become an anomaly across Europe since rivals have been absorbed through a number of mergers.

Investors on Monday felt a big impact when shares of Orange, Bouygues, Iliad as well as Numericable and parent Altice became the five worst Stoxx Europe 600 index performers.

Orange dropped to open by 5.4%, while Bouygues was down by 14%. Iliad sank by 13% and Numericable fell 14%.

The drop in stock prices wiped away over 8 billion euros in combined market value from the five companies.

This was the third attempt the two companies made to merger. Back in 2011, the two CEOs from Orange and Bouygues met to discuss a merger Bouygues dismissed the thought. In 2014, a second attempt also failed.

The new talks started again in November in Paris, but they became highly complex, as the government of France is the largest Orange shareholder with 23%.

To address concerns over antitrust, a potential entity post merger would have had to sell a number of assets to the other two mobile wireless players Numericable and Iliad.

That will not be a worry any longer as the two biggest players have ended talks.

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