France considers telecom re-nationalization

THE French government is considering renationalizing France Telecom unless things improve for the company. The company, which owns the Orange mobile phone brand, is heavily in debt and its share price is low. The company is still controlled by the government but has been partially-privatized. It would not be the first time such a thing happened as the British government recently retook control of the railway infrastructure from the Railtrack firm.

Shares in France Telecom have fallen 79% in value this year alone and are now trading at nearly a third of what they were worth when the company was floated in the autumn of 1997. The move would probably be challenged by the European Union competition authorities but it would avoid the need for the government to refinance the company.

Orange's future in Grand Prix racing is, at best, uncertain and a buyback of the company from private investors would probably mean that the company would need to economize more than is currently the case...

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