France Telecom eyes TeliaSonera

France Telecom is considering a possible bid for Swedish-Finnish firm TeliaSonera, which would increase its exposure to emerging markets, Finance Director Gervais Pellissier said in a report on Thursday.

Pellisier told the Financial Times that France Telecom was also exploring other options, among them Telenor of Norway, adding that his company saw “no need to hurry.”

“If you ask me whether we are examining a number of companies, including TeliaSonera, I would say yes,” Pellissier said.

“But if you are asking whether this is a full-blown examination, we are not there yet.”

The newspaper said a combined France Telecom and TeliaSonera would be the third largest telecom company in Europe, overtaking Deutsche Telekom, and mark a quickening of the consolidation process underway among European groups.

Following first reports of the deal on Wednesday, France Telecom shares lost six percent while TeliaSonera was up 12 percent, with analysts sceptical about the benefits of such a deal for the French company.

“This is scaring the market a bit … it’s a major move, France Telecom is still in debt and it’s hard to see the strategic benefits of such a move,” said one Paris-based dealer on Wednesday.

TeliaSonera is owned 37.3 percent by the Swedish government and 13.7 percent by the Finnish government whilst the French government holds some 27 percent of France Telecom.