French telecoms group Iliad, operating in the country under the Free brand, is reportedly in discussions to acquire larger rival Bouygues Telecom, Reuters reports, citing domestic newspaper Le Parisien. According to the article, Bouygues Group is seeking EUR8 billion (USD11 billion) for its telecoms arm, although Iliad is only prepared to pay EUR5 billion for the unit. Neither company has commented on the speculation thus far.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in March 2014 Bouygues Telecom entered into exclusive talks with Iliad to sell portions of its network and wireless spectrum for around EUR1.8 billion (USD2.5 billion), in order to secure regulatory approval for its planned acquisition of Vivendi’s telecoms unit SFR. Despite revising its offer on several occasions, Bouygues was beaten to the punch by broadband provider Numericable and its majority owner Altice Group of Luxembourg.