Bouygues rejects telecom takeover bid
French phone and Internet provider Bouygues is rejecting a takeover bid by rival SFR, amid French government opposition to the deal.
Bouygues said in a statement that its board decided at a meeting Tuesday "not to follow up" on the unsolicited offer by SFR's owner, Altice.
Bouygues argued that its growth forecasts are good and warned that such a deal could run regulatory risks and lead to layoffs. SFR and Bouygues are France's second- and fourth-largest mobile operators, and the government expressed concern that a merger could reduce competition and cost jobs.
France's economy minister came out strongly against consolidation in the country's mobile telecommunications industry after a media report said a merger was in the works.
Minister Emmanuel Macron said telecommunications consolidation was "not desirable for the sector today" and that operators must instead focus on investment and innovation.
He was responding to a newspaper report in the weekly Journal du Dimanche that said the owner of Numericable-SFR was preparing a €10-billion (US$11.4 billion) offer for smaller rival Bouygues Telecom.