France Telecom open to partial flotation of EE: report

France Telecom is reportedly considering a partial flotation of its stake in EE, its UK mobile-phone joint venture with Deutsche Telekom.

Speaking at an investor conference organized by Morgan Stanley earlier this week, Gervais Pellissier, the French operator’s chief financial officer, hinted of a possible IPO towards the end of 2013 while emphasizing that France Telecom (Paris, France) and Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) have no plans to give up control of the entity.

France Telecom is reportedly considering a partial flotation of its stake in EE, its UK mobile-phone joint venture with Deutsche Telekom.

Speaking at an investor conference organized by Morgan Stanley earlier this week, Gervais Pellissier, the French operator’s chief financial officer, hinted of a possible IPO towards the end of 2013 while emphasizing that France Telecom (Paris, France) and Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) have no plans to give up control of the entity.

“Clearly there is a strong commitment of the shareholders to remain the controlling shareholders of this entity,” Pellissier was quoted as saying by Dow Jones Newswires. “I say controlling shareholders – which means there could be some space at the end of next year to look at something.”

Deutsche Telekom has not commented on the report.

EE (London, UK) has recently been attracting attention over its launch of 4G LTE at the end of October. The operator has a headstart in this market of at least six months over Vodafone (Newbury, UK) and O2 (London, UK), which need to win new spectrum in an upcoming auction before they can also launch the high-speed services.

Nevertheless, EE has been criticized by some parts of the press for pricing 4G at a substantial premium to 3G when the technology is apparently less costly to maintain.

Others have taken a dim view of the operator’s decision to impose data-usage limits on 4G customers. Although such restrictions are common among 4G operators, many were hoping EE would forego the caps with its own service.

Pellissier was reported to have said that it was too early to say how 4G was going, but the company’s launch was subjected to further negative publicity after consumers complained about the unavailability of 4G SIM cards in EE stores and poor levels of customer service.