Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 21:15 GMT 22:15 UK

Business: The Company File

France Telecom buys E-Plus

French group bids for a stake of the German mobile phone market

France Telecom has muscled into Germany's mobile phone market, snapping up a controlling stake in E-Plus, the market's third-largest player.

The telecoms revolution
German utility groups Veba and RWE said they would sell their 60.25% stake in E-Plus to France Telecom for 7.4bn euros ($7.9bn).

The French telecommunications group had already said earlier this month it wanted to buy the 17.24% stake in E-Plus held by UK firm Vodafone AirTouch.

With cross-border competition heating up in Europe's recently liberalized telecommunications market, France Telecom said it intended to use E-Plus to help it expand into the German telephone and internet markets.

France Telecom's plan to form a global partnership with Deutsche Telekom was dealt a severe blow after the German carrier pursued an ill-fated attempt to merge with Telecom Italia in May.

"When we were allied with Deutsche Telekom, we didn't need to expand into the German market, because they were already there," said France Telecom chief executive officer Michel Bon.

"Now that the partnership doesn't exist any more, we need to branch out into each others' countries," he said.

Major player

E-Plus is one of Germany's biggest mobile telephone operators, holding a 16% market share with 3.2m customers. Sales in 1998 were 920m euros ($984m).

The firm, with 3,100 employees, will remain based in Düsseldorf, the companies said.

The former French telephone monopoly said it would be selling its stake in US-based Sprint Corporation, worth about 8.7bn euros ($9.3bn), and its 2% stake in Deutsche Telekom, worth about 2.3bn euros ($2.5bn).

A break-up of the French company's Global One joint venture with Deutsche Telekom and Sprint has been expected since MCI Worldcom's announcement earlier this month that it was acquiring Sprint for $115bn.

Deutsche Telekom also holds 10% of Sprint and is pondering what to do with its stake.

The E-Plus deal depends not only on regulatory approval but also on the consent of US operator BellSouth Corporation to waive its pre-emptive rights, France Telecom said.

The company said it hoped to reach a quick agreement with BellSouth, which holds 22.5% of E-Plus.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

The Company File Contents

Internet Links

France Telecom


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Microsoft trial mediator welcomed

Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Christmas turkey strike vote

NatWest bid timetable frozen

France faces EU action over electricity

Pace enters US cable heartland

Mannesmann fights back

Storehouse splits up Mothercare and Bhs

The rapid rise of Vodafone

The hidden shopping bills

Europe's top net stock

Safeway faces cash demand probe

Mitchell intervenes to help shipyard

New factory creates 500 jobs

Drugs company announces 300 jobs

BT speeds internet access

ICL creates 1,000 UK jobs

National Power splits in two

NTT to slash workforce

Scoot links up with Vivendi

New freedom for Post Office

Insolvent firms to get breathing space

Airtours profits jump 12%

Freeserve shares surge

LVMH buys UK auction house

Rover - a car firm's troubles