KORJATTU LÄHETYS: France Telecom ei aio korottaa tarjoustaan

France Telecomin talousjohtaja Gervais de Pellissier sanoo tänään Le Journal Du Dimanche -lehden haastattelussa, ettei yhtiö aio
korottaa TeliaSonerasta tekemäänsä tarjousta. Hänen mukaansa ei ole mitään syytä nostaa ystävällistä tarjousta ja maksaa TeliaSonerasta ylihintaa.

Interview with Gervais de Pellissier, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of France Telecom

« This is not a deal France Télécom has to do at all costs »

Why has there been such a rejection by the markets?
First [and foremost], we should underline that the CAC40 has lost 2.44% in the last two trading days. Hence our price has not fallen by 7.72%, but by about 5% in that time. That being said the market reaction is pretty much as you would expect. None of the recently announced major mergers have been positively received in the early days. We need more time to explain our project and we're right at the beginning of that process.

Given the fall in your share price and the rise in TeliaSonera's is a deal still possible?
Two things might lead to us to withdraw our offer. The first would be if it were not perceived in a friendly way by the shareholders and the management of TeliaSonera. The second would be persistent market turbulence. If our share price were to suffer a complete disconnect, that would make the deal difficult to conclude. We're convinced the project makes sense for the two groups, but it's not a deal we must do at all costs. It's just like the proposed purchase of Yahoo! by Microsoft which the latter finally walked away from. What's important is that there's a decision as soon as possible one way or the other.

Will you shorten the 15 day deadline you set yourselves at the outset?
This time period is necessary so that the TeliaSonera shareholders, the Board members and the management can come to a decision, and particularly the Governments of Sweden and Finland who are the majority shareholders. In the absence of any friendly signal on their part, the transaction will be difficult to achieve since unstable markets don't like uncertainty.

Will you raise your offer?
No. The value we've proposed seems the right one to us. What is more, if we were to increase the parity in the share portion of the offer in favour of the TeliaSonera shareholders, our investors would be disadvantaged and they would exert downward pressure on our share price. Since this is a friendly approach and not a market raid, there's no reason to raise our offer and overpay for TeliaSonera.

You've estimated about 650 million euros of synergies and those only by 2013. Is that enough to make this deal attractive?
It's true we're looking at savings of some 1% of the combined businesses' revenues and we've tailored our offer to that figure. In addition the two groups are strongly cash generative. So in the short term there's no need to extract synergies overnight. At the end of the day, this deal is not merely financial, above all it's based on an industrial vision. France Télécom isn't an investment fund.

Is this race for scale really justified?
Together the two groups will have a greater purchasing power and more room for manoeuvre when investing in the technologies of the future in the areas of mobile broadband and fibre. All our competitors are thinking in the same way. You only need to look at how AT&T in the US has been reassembled, how Deutsche Telekom is buying into Greece’s OTE or even Telefonica's interest in Telecom Italia for that to be clear.

Is this union truly in the interest of shareholders ?
The transaction is accretive, which means that it would result in an increase in earnings per share. In addition, our shareholders will continue to receive a high dividend yield. The yield will double for the shareholders of TeliaSonera, and it will continue to increase for shareholders of France Telecom.

If you withdraw from the transaction, will your share price rise?
That is likely. Experience shows that when the purchaser withdraws, its share price improves while that of the target drops. This is exactly what happened with Microsoft and Yahoo!. Moreover, the real market value of a company is not calculated over the short term. The profitability of France Telecom and the soundness of its strategy have not changed in the past 48 hours.


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