France's economy minister says time's not right for telecom mergers after report of tie-up

Industries Associated Press

France's economy minister has come out strongly against consolidation in the country's mobile telecommunication industry after a media report claimed a merger is in the works between France's second-largest and fourth-largest operators.

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Minister Emmanuel Macron says telecommunications consolidation "is not desirable for the sector today" and that operators must instead focus on investment and innovation. The comments, sent to reporters Sunday, follow an unsourced report in the weekly newspaper Journal du Dimanche that said the owner of Numericable-SFR was preparing a 10-billion-euro ($11.4 billion) offer for smaller rival Bouygues Telecom.

Both companies declined to comment on the report.

Without naming any companies, Macron slammed the deal, saying "the time is not right for opportunistic mergers that profit a few but don't serve the overall good."