Iliad sets sights on fourth 3G mobile licence

9 Jan 2008

French broadband group Iliad (Free) yesterday confirmed it is interested in acquiring the country’s fourth 3G mobile licence and challenging the dominance of incumbent cellcos Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom. Reuters reports that Iliad would be interested in making a fresh bid for the country’s last available licence if another tender was launched by the regulator Arcep this year. In an interview, the company’s incoming Finance Director Thomas Reynaud said ‘We are still interested in this licence … There is a strategic and an industrial rationale to enter the mobile market, and we have all the assets to enter that market. Iliad, France’s third largest broadband provider by subscribers bid unsuccessfully for the fourth licence in 2007, when its offer was rejected by the regulator as too low. It continues to argue for a change in the financial terms, allowing it to pay the EUR619 million (USD910 million) licence fee in instalments, rather than in a single upfront payment. The French senate and parliament approved a law amendment in December paving the way for the financial terms of the licence to be changed, but details have not yet been determined. If Arcep re-launches a tender, Iliad could face competition from French cable operator Numericable, which has also expressed an interest in bidding.

France, Altice France (SFR), Iliad (Free)