France's telecommunications giant Orange said on Tuesday there is an even chance that takeover talks with its smaller rival Bouygues Telecom will be successful.
Orange, which is 20-percent owned by the French state, last week said it had "renewed preliminary discussions" with the Bouygues group to take over its telecoms division, a move that would consolidate one of Europe's most competitive telecoms marketplaces to three players from the current four.
"I would say we have a 50/50 chance," Orange chief Stephane Richard told journalists.
Any decision would take no more "a few weeks" to reach, he said. "We cannot take months over this," he added.
"It's a complicated operation ... because it shakes up the view that people may have of this industry, and this requires regulators, both for the sector and the competition authority, to look at these topics with a fresh approach, and they will need to consider the question of investment that seems to me to be absolutely crucial," he said.
Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said last month that he had no policy position on the number of operators in the market as long as investments in fixed line and mobile services are safeguarded.
That stance had evolved from June when he said consolidation was undesirable for the sector.