KPN contemplates offloading ‘difficult’ French asset

2 Dec 2011

Dutch operator KPN (or Royal KPN as it is also known) is considering whether or not to keep or sell off its French wireless business amid intense competition and the imminent arrival of a fresh challenger there. Bloomberg quotes KPN’s head of international mobile phone operations, Thorsten Dirks, as saying that the firm sees the French market as ‘difficult’ and needs to decide whether to bolster the business or sell it. At a press event in Dusseldorf on 30 November, the KPN official said the Dutch owners recognise that with the advent of fresh competition – in the shape of fourth mobile network operator, Iliad-backed Free Mobile – the situation is likely to get even tougher. Iliad’s founder Xavier Niel has promised to drive down mobile prices in France which is already home to three heavyweight players – Orange France, SFR and Bouygues Telecom. KPN offers its Simyo brand in France, acting as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) over the networks of Orange and Bouygues. By contrast to its struggles in France, Dirks says the group’s Simyo businesses in Spain and Belgium are in rude health with the former experiencing a ‘great influx’ in customers and the latter said to be doing ‘very well’.

France, Netherlands, KPN