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France's Sapin defends state's role in Orange-Bouygues Telecom talks

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Finance Minister Michel Sapin on Sunday defended the role of the French government in the failed merger talks between Orange and Bouygues Telecom.

[PARIS] Finance Minister Michel Sapin on Sunday defended the role of the French government in the failed merger talks between Orange and Bouygues Telecom.

Talks between the two companies, in which the government was heavily involved, aimed at creating a dominant French telecoms operator collapsed on Friday.

A deal would have ended a price war that has ravaged operators' margins since the arrival of Iliad 's Free Mobile low-cost services in 2012.

Asked on France 5 television whether his cabinet colleague, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, had been imposing too stringent conditions for the tie-up and was responsible for the deal's collapse, Mr Sapin said: "The state has defended its own interests, just as it did with Renault and as it always will," he said, referring to another recent standoff between a the French carmaker and Mr Macron.

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Hinting at the fact Bouygues' demand for a valuation of 10 billion euros for its telecoms unit may have been too high, Mr Sapin added: "We're not supposed to accept whatever valuation is proposed, that is to say give more money to a company than what it deserves in a merger."

REUTERS

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