French privately-owned retail group Auchan has sold its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) business to Euro Information Telecom (EI), a subsidiary of Credit Mutuel-CIC and NRJ Mobile, PC Inpact reports. According to the article, the transfer of Auchan Telecom’s 150,000 subscribers to EI Telecom will be completed by December 2013, while Auchan Telecom brand and the associated domain name will be phased out by December 2015. EI Telecom also owns the brands NRJ Mobile, CIC Mobile, Credit Mutuel Mobile, Cofidis Mobile and Blancheporte Mobile. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the decision to sell Auchan Telecom – which has yet to generate a profit – was taken at a meeting of the Central Works Committee in July 2013, with SFR reportedly considered as potential buyer at the time.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, MVNOs have suffered the most from Free Mobile’s launch in January 2012: their total customer base grew by just 2.2% to 7.66 million in 2012, giving MVNOs a market share of 11.2%, compared with 11.3% the previous year. As result, in November 2012 Auchan Telecom suspended its fixed telephony and internet services as it planned to concentrate solely on cellular services. The company stated poor customer take-up and price pressures as the reasons behind its decision.