September 16, 2016 / 3:46 PM / 4 years ago

Orange CEO said initial SFR, Bouygues, Iliad talks have resumed: spokesman

Company logos for French telecom operator Orange, on a tablet screen, and Bouygues Telecom, on a mobile phone screen, are seen in this illustration photo taken in Nice, France, April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/Illustration/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Orange (ORAN.PA) Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard told investors last week in London that preliminary consolidation talks have resumed between SFR SFRGR.PA, Iliad (ILD.PA) and Bouygues (BOUY.PA), a spokesman said on Friday.

Richard “mentioned that initial contacts have resumed between the other operators, without Orange being a driving force behind these talks,” the spokesman said.

The last round of merger talks between the four French telecoms operators failed in April, ending an attempt to ease the price war that has hit operators’ margins since the arrival of Iliad’s low-cost Free Mobile services in 2012.

Between 2012 and 2016, the prices of mobile services have fallen by more then 30 percent in France, according to the country’s telecom regulator Arcep, even though operators had to invest heavily in high speed internet infrastructures to lure customers.

Bouygues and SFR’s parent company Altice (ATCA.AS) denied that merger talks have resumed. Iliad declined to comment.

French business news website BFM Business was first to report Richard’s comments.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic; editing by Michel Rose and Jane Merriman

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