The sale of France Telecom’s (FT) Swiss subsidiary Orange Switzerland has piqued the interest of Egyptian billionaire and majority-owner of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) Naguib Sawiris and CVC Capital Partners, the owner of local rival telco, Sunrise. The two are reported to be interested in bidding for the company, despite misgivings from FT. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, FT sought a merger with Sunrise (then owned by Denmark’s TDC) in 2009 but was blocked by the regulator, which ruled that the effect would be detrimental to competition in the country. As there has been little change in the Swiss market since then, it is likely that another attempt would again encounter resistance from the watchdog. Sources close to the sale claim that FT is concerned that CVC’s involvement might deter other bidders.
Also believed to be considering bids are the private equity firms Advent International, Apax, Bain, Cinven, EQT and Providence. Liberty Global’s UPC Cablecom, Switzerland’s second largest broadband provider, may also bid, as it has expressed interest in entering the mobile market.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Switzerland’s wireless market is well advanced, and near saturation. Subscriber growth has slowed to less than 1% per quarter. Between June 2010 and June 2011, the average growth for each period was 0.96%.