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France Telecom reportedly weighs $54 billion TeliaSonera bid

Date: 4/16/2008 1:24:01 PM

The potential deal, initially reported by French newspaper Le Figaro and later by The Wall Street Journal Online, would create a giant with annual sales of 63 billion euros and allow it to compete better with rival Deutsche Telekom AG (DE:555750: news, chart, profile) (DT:deutsche telekom ag sponsored adr
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Last: 17.96+0.28+1.58%

2:01pm 04/16/2008

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DT 17.96, +0.28, +1.6%) , which is Europes largest telecommunications company.
The Le Figaro report said a deal could be valued at a minimum 34 billion euros ($54 billion) and would involve complex political negotiations. Thats because France Telecom (FR:013330: news, chart, profile) (FTE:france telecom sponsored adr
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Last: 33.251.915.43%

2:01pm 04/16/2008

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FTE 33.25, 1.91, 5.4%) is 27%owned by the French government and the Swedish and Finnish states have respective 37% and 13.7% stakes in TeliaSonera (SE:TLSN: news, chart, profile) .
France Telecom has the backing of the French government for the operation and would use stock to make the purchase, Le Figaro reported, without citing its sources.
The company declined to comment on the report.

Shares of TeliaSonera rose 10% in Stockholm. France Telecom shares fell 5.9% in Paris afternoon trading. See Europe Markets.
France Telecom, like many other European incumbent telecom operators, has been looking to enter fastgrowing markets beyond its borders to offset slower growth at home. It already has operations in Spain, Poland, the U.K. and several Eastern European countries. It has recently bought assets in Kenya and Jordan as part of a strategy to build its presence in Africa and the Middle East.
A purchase of TeliaSonera would be France Telecoms largest acquisition since it bought Orange in 2000 for 27.8 billion pounds. Although the transaction would mark a slight departure from the French groups strategy of recent years Scandinavia is not exactly an emerging market it would bring exposure to a new geographical area. TeliaSonera also boasts a wider operating margin than France Telecoms.
Goldman Sachs analysts told clients in a note published Wednesday that sizeable cost savings are hard to envisage as France Telecom is already a "scale player" and its only overlapping market with TeliaSonera is Spain where they would face uncertainty regarding licenses.
It noted, however, that a deal would be positive for the sector, especially for smaller players with an emergingmarket presence such as Telenor (NO:TEL: news, chart, profile) , Telekom Austria (TKAGY:telekom austria ag sponsored adr
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Last: 44.85+1.44+3.32%

8:11pm 04/15/2008

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TKAGY 44.85, +1.44, +3.3%) and potentially Portugal Telecom (PT:Portugal Telecom, S.A.
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Last: 12.90+0.64+5.22%

2:01pm 04/16/2008

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PT 12.90, +0.64, +5.2%) .
All three advanced on Wednesday: shares of Portugal Telecom rose 4.9%, Telenor rose 3.4% and Telekom Austria added 2%. Citigroup analysts, however, were doubtful that a deal would materialize. They only attributed the scenario a 20% probability, saying the tieup would make little sense for either company.
"It would be unlikely to help either player restructure its fixedline units or solve TeliaSoneras ownership issues in Russia or Turkey," the broker said.
Analysts for Natixis Securities, meanwhile, reminded investors that France Telecoms track record when it comes to acquisitions is "unimpressive." The broker said it believes that today the group is looking to trim its asset portfolio, as evidence by the sale of its Dutch business, than to identify new targets in Europe.

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Source: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/story.aspx?guid=%7B806E0C5D%2D9973%2D4831%2D82FE%2D02173FB2A9E4%7D&siteid=rss


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