Franco-Israeli media magnate Patrick Drahi has offered over 10 billion euros ($11.3 billion) to buy out rival French mobile phone operator Bouygues Telecom in a move described as "undesirable" by the government. Drahi already owns France's second-biggest telecoms operator Numericable-SFR as part of his Altice group.
Acquiring the telecom division of Bouygues construction and media conglomerate would give him a dominant position in the sector. Bouygues's board will examine the offer "at the start of the week," sources with knowledge of the negotiations told AFP.
Another source specified the board would discuss the issue on Tuesday. But the government is not keen to see less competition in the mobile phone sector, where a busy playing field has kept prices low for consumers. "Now is not the time for opportunistic tie-ups which may be of interest to some people but which are not in the public interest," Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told AFP. "I say and I repeat that consolidation is currently undesirable for the sector," he said. "Jobs, investment and better customer service are the priorities," Macron said, adding that recent cases in Europe had shown telecoms mergers to have a "negative" impact. According to JDD, the deal may not be a straight takeover of Bouygues Telecom but more a dismantling of its assets.