Bouygues Telecom, France’s third largest mobile operator by subscribers, has hired investment banks HSBC and Rothschild to advise it on a potential tie-up with larger rival SFR, Reuters reports citing two people close to the situation. The new development comes after SFR’s parent company, French media group Vivendi, confirmed earlier this week that it had been approached for a ‘potential alliance’ deal by Altice Group, the majority shareholder of domestic cable operator Numericable. However, people familiar with the matter pointed out that a merger between the second and third largest players in the market will attract the scrutiny of the telecoms regulator, the Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep), unlike a potential tie-up between SFR and broadband operator Numericable.
Meanwhile, Bouygues Telecom has launched a low cost triple-play offer (broadband access, TV and fixed telephony) for EUR19.99 (USD27.39) per month, raising concerns that the raging price war in the wireless market will extend to the fixed-line sector as well. The new bundle will be available to subscribers from 3 March, and will consist of ADSL broadband access with 20GB of online cloud storage, TV with up to 165 channels and access to video-on-demand (VoD), and fixed telephony line with unlimited calls to landlines in mainland France and 121 international destinations. Further, subscribers can opt for an add-on ‘Sensation’ service, costing an additional EUR6 per month, which includes unlimited calls to all mobile operators in France and French overseas territories (excluding Mayotte and special numbers) and access to premium television with up to 170 channels (27 HD channels). The company provides the required equipment (internet modem and TV decoder) free of charge.