Orange CEO says not planning to buy Vivendi's Canal Plus

France's number one telecoms group Orange is not planning to buy Vivendi's pay-TV Canal Plus, chief executive Stephane Richard said on Thursday.

Until now, the two had been discussing a possible move by Orange to buy a stake in Canal Plus, which is wholly-owned by media giant Vivendi, according to sources close to the matter.

"No, I don't want to buy Canal Plus," Richard said in an interview with BFM Business radio station on Thursday. "Orange and Canal Plus are important partners. Can we do more together? For sure, but on an industrial and commercial basis, not through a stake acquisition."

Richard's comments highlight the difficulties the former state monopoly has faced in a rapidly-changing sector, which faces new competition from Netflix, Amazon and other new TV content providers globally.

Orange's chief had said in December that Orange would consider bidding for Vivendi's pay-TV's arm if it came up for sale.

ERIC PIERMONT | AFP | Getty Images

So far, Orange has a distribution agreement with Canal Plus and it is its first distributor in its home country.

French business newspaper Les Echos reported earlier this month that Orange and Vivendi's Canal Plus were considering setting up a new commercial venture to confront strong competition from SFR Group, the country's second-biggest telecoms operator.

Separately, Orange reported a 1.3 percent increase of its yearly core operating profit on Thursday, helped by a strong sales momentum in Spain and a reduction in labour expenses.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, debt and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to 12.68 billion euros ($13.4 billion) in 2016, from 12.52 billion euros a year earlier on a comparable basis.

That result was in line with a Reuters poll average of 12.64 billion euros.

Group revenues rose by 0.6 percent to 40.92 billion euros - the first time group turnover had increased on a yearly basis since the global financial crisis of 2008.

Orange also said it would increase its dividend per share in 2017 by 0.5 euros to 0.65 euros.

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