February 21, 2019 / 2:50 PM / a year ago

Iliad's shares tumble to 8-year low on Italy worries

PARIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Shares of French telecoms group Iliad hit an 8-year low on Thursday after a press report pointed to a slowdown of the Italian market and rivals’ remarks suggested sales of its new set-top box had no significant impact.

Iliad’s stock was losing close to 8 percent at 1415 GMT to 87.5 euros, its biggest drop since May 2018.

Two Paris traders cited a report by Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore that hinted to a deceleration of the country’s mobile market as an explanation for the sell-off.

“Iliad had a 3 percent market share in September and they have a target of 10 percent, it’s getting a bit complicated I think,” said one of them.

In France, rivals Orange and Bouygues Telecoms , which both issued full-year results earlier on Thursday, said the launch of Iliad’s new set-top box Freebox Delta has so far had no noticeable impact on their broadband customer base.

Iliad, founded and majority-owned by billionaire Xavier Niel, presented the set-top box in early December last year, with the aim to revive sluggish sales in its home country.

Orange also said chances of seeing a merger within the French telecom market to cut the number of operators from four to three had weakened, thus pushing away the likelihood of a swift improvement of the competitive environment.

Bouygues echoed Orange’s remarks by saying it has held no talks on the subject with competitors lately.

Iliad will publish its full-year results on March 19. (Reporting by Blandine Henault Writing by Mathieu Rosemain Editing by Bate Felix)

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