The operator Orange and the group Bouygues are indeed discussing merger, as suggested by several press reports in recent weeks.
The two companies confirm in separate press releases "resumption of preliminary discussions"while stating that no specific timetable has been set and that they are not at an advanced stage.
The two groups also indicate that these negotiations could lead to nothing, thus opening up exit doors. However, the official confirmation of the existence of discussions suggests that approach maneuvers have already been carried out.
It may also suggest that making contact with political powers or regulators suggest a happy outcome or at least support for an approach that still risks reinforcing the presence of the operator, already a leader in the French mobile market, which the European Commission might take a dim view of.
This formalization of contact may also give other operators, Free Mobile and SFR, a signal for the related negotiations which will help to validate the merger by redistributing part of the assets of Bouygues Telecom to balance the competition in a market that has three mobile operators.