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French telecom group Iliad eyes UK's mobile market -FT

Jan 25 (Reuters) – French billionaire Xavier Niel’s telecoms
group Iliad (Paris: FR0004035913news) has approached the UK telecoms regulator to
express a “preliminary” interest in entering UK’s mobile market,
the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the
matter.

Iliad’s interest to enter UK’s mobile market and create a
new network operator would depend on the acquisition of telecoms
infrastructure as a result of the 10.5 billion pounds ($14.96
billion) O2-Three merger, the FT said. (http://on.ft.com/1UmycR6)

The merged company formed by the O2-Three deal would own
half of Britain’s most attractive mobile spectrum in the
so-called low-frequency bands, which allow operators to cover
long distances more cost-effectively, according to Moody’s. It
would also own 37 percent of the spectrum in high-frequency
bands above 1800 megahertz.

It (Other OTC: ITGLnews) is expected that European Commission antitrust regulators
would require the merged entity of O2 and Three to shed some of
its parts, in order to create a new competitor, or guarantee
access of its network to rivals, as the UK market consolidates
from four to three operators, the FT reported.

However, EU regulators have been of the view that
consolidation in the telecoms sector was “not necessarily the
answer”.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager
scuppered a deal between TeliaSonera (Amsterdam: 1087941.ASnews) and Telenor (EUREX: 1160189.EXnews)
in Denmark last year over concerns it would lead to
higher prices for consumers, the first time such a deal had been
blocked since telecoms companies began an M&A spree in 2013.

A similar deal acquisition between Orange SA and
Bougyues Telecom is expected to be vetted in France,
sources told Reuters last week.

France’s largest telecom company Orange (Taiwan OTC: 4554.TWOnews) has already started
informal talks with rivals Numericable-SFR and Iliad

Iliad and Ofcom could not be reached for comment outside
regular business hours.

($1 = 0.7018 pounds)

(Reporting by Ankush Sharma in Bangalore, editing by David
Evans)

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