France Télécom close to privatisation

1 Aug 2003

The French government yesterday adopted a bill allowing its stake in former national monopoly France Télécom [FTE.PA] to fall below 50%, paving the way for the full privatisation of the telco. The bill, which is due to be reviewed this autumn by Parliament, will enable the government to start cashing in its 58% stake, worth around EUR29 billion, as well as giving France Télécom the option of buying out minority shareholders in its subsidiaries Orange and Wanadoo. The government, however, is not expected to start selling shares in the market before its stake has been diluted below 50%.