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France Telecom said to be seeking €10bn loan

30 мая 2008

France Telecom has approached a number of banks for the possibility of arranging a €10 billion loan to finance an unspecified acquisition, it emerged Thursday.

One banking source said he believed the loan would be used by the French incumbent to launch a bid for TeliaSonera, according to a Reuters report.

A TeliaSonera spokesman told Total Telecom that to his knowledge there have been no recent further talks between the two companies, and he declined to speculate about France Telecom's activities.

A call to France Telecom wasn't immediately returned; however, reports earlier this week cited the operator's CEO Didier Lombard as saying he wasn't currently in talks to acquire TeliaSonera.

A final decision on the matter is expected in weeks, and there is still reason to believe that a merger between the two companies could take place.

The Finnish government, which owns a 13.7% stake in TeliaSonera, recently omitted the operator from its list of strategically important companies, according to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, leading to speculation that it might be looking to sell.

And the Swedish government has previously stated its intention to sell off its 37.2% holding in the telco.

France Telecom confirmed in April it was exploring a possible deal with TeliaSonera, after local media reports said the former was interested in pursuing a share-swap agreement.

Company CFO Gervais Pellissier argued at the time that greater scale would boost France Telecom's ability to pursue new revenue streams, from the likes of online advertising and content services.

Earlier this month, unnamed sources first claimed that France Telecom had approached a number of banks about financing what was widely thought would be a bid for the Nordic operator.

Banking sources said Thursday that the French incumbent initially approached five banks, but is now talking to a larger group as a means to hold a more competitive mandate process, which could help it secure a lower interest margin on the loan.

However, the rising cost of borrowing is putting constraints on lenders.

"France Telecom is a credit we would look at, providing pricing was right," said a banker in the report.

Источник: Total Telecom

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