April 30, 2019 / 8:49 AM / 7 months ago

Orange's warnings over price war hit French telecoms stocks

PARIS, April 30 (Reuters) - Orange shares fell sharply on Tuesday, after an executive’s comments about the intensification of the price war in France’s telecoms market unnerved investors and hit shares in the sector.

Orange, France’s former monopoly, reported earlier that quarterly sales in France had fallen for the first time since 2017, highlighting the tough environment in the country where rivals are engaged in a race to win market share.

“We expect the same kind of intensity of promotional activity in the year,” Fabienne Dulac, the head of Orange’s French business, told analysts. “We expect a very aggressive year.”

Shares in Orange fell sharply in the wake of those comments, dragging down the stock prices of Orange’s rivals.

“The comments by the managers this morning did not reassure investors, and questions over heavy spending on 5G remain at the heart of this sector,” said Meriem Mokdad, fund manager at Roche Brune Asset Management.

Orange was down 3.2 percent, Iliad also fell by more than 3 percent, Altice Europe declined by 3.4 percent while Bouygues - which owns Bouygues Telecom - dipped 0.9 percent. (Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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