Bouygues Telecom is France's #3 mobile network (behind Orange and SFR) with 15.8m mobile subscribers by mid-2018, equivalent to around 16% local share. It manages a number of MVNO services including Universal Mobile for Universal Music, and TF1 Mobile, a partnership with the TF1 broadcast network. The latter is also a subsidiary of parent group Bouygues, a widely diversified family-controlled conglomerate which also has major interests in construction and infrastructure. It launched its own low-cost prepaid service in 2012 under the B&You banner. Bbox is a home broadband and IP TV service (3.6m subscribers) to rival Orange's Livebox, allowing the group to offer a full "quad play" service to its clients, including fixed line voice calling. In 2018, it agreed to acquire Keyyo Communications, a competitor in mobile and broadband services for small businesses. Although it is the smallest of France's big three telecoms groups, Bouygues has a long-standing reputation for the best customer service. However performance has been dented significantly since 2012 by the launch of low-cost rival Free Mobile, now close behind Bouygues in customers. Free's arrival prompted calls for consolidation among the country's mobile companies. Bouygues' revenues slumped in 2014 as a result of a steep cut in call rates, prompted by the rivalry from Free. An attempt to acquire rival SFR was foiled when seller Vivendi chose instead rival bidder Numericable, a cable company. Numericable's parent Altice subsequently expressed an interest in acquiring Bouygues as well and merging the two suppliers. However Bouygues opened negotiations instead with Orange at the end of 2015. Those talks eventually collapsed in April 2016, with Bouygues opting to remain independent, for the time being at least. Olivier Roussat is chairman of Bouygues Telecom; Richard Viel is CEO. Revenues for 2017 were €5.1bn.
Capsule checked 10th December 2018
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Adbrands Weekly Update 7th April 2016: A proposed deal for the purchase of French mobile operator Bouygues by larger rival Orange also collapsed at the final hurdle after months of difficult negotiations. Most reports put much of the blame on the intransigence of the French state, Orange's biggest shareholder. French minister for the economy Francois Macron had attempted to limit the large shareholding Bouygues' CEO Martin Bouygues would receive in the merged Orange/Bouygues entity, mainly to avoid any threat to the government's own influence over the company. Another major factor was the personal animosity between Bouygues and Xavier Niel, founder of mobile challenger Free. The latter was required to purchase a large chunk of Bouygues' infrastructure to avoid competition issues; but mainly because of their long-established dislike for one another, the two principals could not agree on a price or terms. Bouygues himself appeared to place most of the blame for the collapse on Niel's unwillingness to be pinned down to a firm proposal. Without naming names, he told Le Figaro newspaper, "There were four of us around the negotiating table, but only three of us wanted to make it work. Clearly one the players had the ambition to get the most while paying the least, with the option of pulling out." A deal had promised the long-anticipated consolidation of the French mobile market from four to three players. Its collapse promoted a plunge in all four companies share prices.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Mar 2016: Orange is close to agreeing a deal that will involve the break-up of the current #3 mobile operator Bouygues Telecom. Under the proposed plan, Orange would acquire Bouygues for around €10bn in cash and shares, making Martin Bouygues the second largest shareholder in Orange after the French state. To appease regulators, Orange would then sell on a big chunk of Bouygues' fixed line and mobile customers to second-placed SFR, and most of its wireless infrastructure and retail network to challenger brand Free, owned by Iliad. That will allow Illiad to convert from an MVNO operator as at present to a full-service wireless provider.
Adbrands Weekly Update 10th Dec 2015: French telecoms giant Orange is in talks to acquire the communications and media interests of diversified conglomerate Bouygues, according to Bloomberg. Negotiations are at an early stage, but would involve the buyout of hard-pressed Bouygues Telecom, the local #3 mobile supplier. The deal is also thought to include Bouygues' controlling stake in commercial broadcasting giant TF1. Bouygues issued a denial saying it "has no plans to withdraw from the telecoms and television sectors and reaffirms its long-term presence in these two industries." However Bloomberg says the current talks don't involve a full buyout. Orange would acquire majority control, with Bouygues retaining a minority position.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Jun 2015: An offer of €10bn from French telecoms and cable group Numericable SFR to acquire rival mobile provider Bouygues Telecom has been declined by the Bouygues family. After several days of consideration, chairman Martin Bouyges said that his firm, the country's #3 mobile carrier, is strong enough to continue as a separate business, and highlighted the "significant execution risk" over a merger. The French government had already voiced its opposition to a merger of SFR and Bouygues. Publicly the government cited Numericable SFR's high level of borrowings and the possibility of resulting financial instability. Privately, it's thought the government fears that consolidation would reduce the number of bidders as well as the amount of cash available to spend on new 4G spectrum which it plans to auction later this year.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Nov 2014: Altice, which recently acquired France's #2 mobile operator SFR and is merging it with its cable division Numericable, also expressed interest in the #3 operator Bouygues. "Right now, we are focused on integrating SFR," said CEO Dexter Goei, "but if we get a phone call from Bouygues on Friday, then why not? There is a big synergy potential there."
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