The chairman of France Telecom, Michel Bon, told reporters yesterday that he had been in talks with Cable & Wireless Communications (C&CW) over buying a stake in the UK company.
The news comes days after reports of Deutsche Telekom seeking to mount a bid for a slice of the same Cable & Wireless subsidiary.
Michel Bon told journalists that Cable & Wireless could be the ?British relay station? of Global One, the alliance between France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and Sprint of the US. He said: ?We are interested in a position in C&CW.? However he warned that neither party was yet close to a deal.
A France Telecom spokesperson confirmed that the two companies had held meetings after Cable & Wireless pulled out of its alliance with Veba of Germany, but said a deal was not about to be announced. Cable & Wireless would not comment.
Cable & Wireless has been the subject of intense speculation this week. To global alliances, such as Global One, it is an attractive partner because of its extensive cable network - which would allow telecomms operators to bypass BT?s local exchange - and because of its strong position in the Far East through its majority stake in Hong Kong Telecom. Neither Global One nor BT/MCI have significant presence in Asia Pacific. Cable & Wireless, through its newly appointed chief executive, Richard Brown, is keen to be seen as an aggressive world player.
France Telecom yesterday announced its 1996 financial results and the French government?s intention to sell between FF30 and FF50 billion of shares in the state-owned telco this year.
In 1996, its consolidated turnover rose to FF151.3, an increase from FF147.8 billion last year. Operating income rose to FF30.3 billion before exceptional items.
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