Europe's highly fragmented telecommunications market will begin to consolidate into a "new paradigm", the deputy CEO of Orange forecast on Monday.
"The movement now is in the direction of consolidation: intra-market or cross-market consolidation," Pierre Louette, the deputy head of the French telecoms giant, told CNBC from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
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In 2013, 20 telecoms deals valued at $1 billion or more were announced in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), for an aggregate value of $106.3 billion – the highest level since 2005, according to data from Dealogic.
"It is something which is a bit of a new paradigm for the European authorities, because they were really focusing on creating new players," Louette said.
(Track: European telecommunications shares)
There are more than 120 telecom operators in the European Union, according to Louette, with each of the 28 member countries having around four-to-six domestic players.
Louette said the European telecoms market needed to become more like that in the U.S., which he termed an .
"What we see is an M&A world (in the U.S.) in which you acquire competitors, you try to extinguish or kill possible competitors. You purchase competencies that you are not acquiring on the market," he said.
"In Europe, we need to do more in consolidation. It is something that has already happened in the U.S., in the telco world."
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—By CNBC's Katy Barnato. Follow her on Twitter: