updated 11:50 pm EDT, Sun June 29, 2008
F Telecom Closer to Telia
France Telecom has increased the value of a takeover bid for TeliaSonera to where the two are now in serious talks, according to word from alleged sources of the Wall Street Journal. The French company, which runs the Orange brand worldwide, is said to have increased its offer per share to a level that Sweden-based TeliaSonera is no longer dismissing a takeover offer out of hand, as it did earlier this month. The talks are reported as fragile and could break off at any moment, with France Telecom having set a Monday deadline for itself if no deal is struck by that point.
Neither of the involved companies has volunteered to answer the rumors or been available to comment.
While France Telecom is said to be hesitant to significantly raise its offers and may back out altogether after nervous reactions by investors, TeliaSonera has been under pressure to accept a deal from the Swedish government to become fully privatized.
A union between the two communications companies would create a much larger competitor in the region. While Orange enjoys a significant presence in much of mainland Europe, it and other carriers generally have less influence in Scandinavian countries, where TeliaSonera has a much greater stake. TeliaSonera struck a key deal to carry the iPhone 3G in its Swedish home as well as Denmark, Finland, and Norway, but would lose absolute control of this and other deals in the event of a merger.