France Telecom to Buy U.K. Wireless Firm
LONDON, May 30 -- France Telecom is reportedly poised to acquire Orange PLC from Vodafone AirTouch for over $37 billion (US), as well as $9.4 billion in debt. According to published reports, the boards of Vodafone, France Telecom and Mannesmann AG have scheduled votes on the agreement. Mannesmann, which acquired Orange late last year, was subsequently taken over by Vodafone AirTouch. European regulators promptly asked Vodafone to sell Orange.   Reportedly, France Telecom has agreed to combine its mobile operations with Orange's; and to take part of those combined operations public later this year or in the first quarter of 2001. The move is aimed at overcoming Orange management's objections. Observers say the transaction would increase pressure on three European phone companies with major wireless aspirations in Europe: Telefonica SA of Spain, KPN NV of the Netherlands and Sonera Corp. of Finland.
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