Tuesday, October 03, 2006

La Vanguardia is fascinating today.

The banner headline on page one reads, "Third-generation mobile phones unleash millions in investments."

The subheads read, "Telecoms to spend €14.5 billion over next three years; Renovating infrastructure and increasing competence, the companies' goals; France Telecom's purchase of Amena revolutionizes sector. Page 66."

This is getting interesting. Let's note that the only companies mentioned by name are France Telecom and Amena, and go to page 66.

Page 66, the first page of the business section on the first business news day of the week (not a lot of new stuff on Monday, since the markets are closed Sunday), is entirely devoted to this exclusive. Headline: "Telecoms to invest €14.5 billion over next three years." Subhead: "France Telecom's purchase of Amena revolutionizes sector." Hmm. France Telecom gets another mention, and so does Amena.

Then there is a large photograph of a gentleman in a suit and tie next to a large sign showing Orange's logo; the photo is purposely cropped to include both the gentleman and the logo. The caption reads, "The president of France Telecom, Didier Lombard, yesterday in Madrid announced the union of Amena and Wanadoo."

Here's the lead paragraph. "A silent revolution is occurring in the telecommunications sector. Technological changes have begun a new investment cycle that will bring telecommunications to take over protagonism after the stock market debacle of 2000. In the next three years, Telefonica, Vodafone, Ono, and Xfera plan to invest more than €13 billion. France Telecom joined in this wave of investment, announcing investments of €1.5 billion over the next three years in the Spanish market."

So France Telecom gets another mention, though its investment is only one-tenth of the total amount that all the telecoms companies are supposedly going to put up, which I will believe when I actually see it. There's also a mention of the stock market and new "protagonism" by the telecoms sector.

Now, here's the real, buried lead paragraph, the second one: "The CEO of France Telecom España, Belarmino Garcia, said that "We will be the principal foreign investor in the telecommunications sector." He said that after the disappearance of the mobile phone operator Amena and of Wanadoo, France Telecom's new brand Orange will comprise the company's mobile-phone, fixed-line phone, internet, and television services in order to become an authentic alternative to Telefonica. Forecast net income is €4 billion annually, with 3300 employees."

Reads like a France Telecom press release.

Paragraph three: "The purchase by France Telecom of Amena and the acquisition by Ono of Auna Cable have revolutionized the sector. "Both operations attracted the attention of private equity funds because they represent the beginning of real competition in the sector," said Didier Lombard."

Note that so far the tone of the article is very bullish on telecoms sector stocks and especially France Telecom, of course.

Paragraph four: "The first response was Telefonica's announcement that it would invest €9 billion over the next four years." Excuse me! Isn't this the big news? Telefonica's investment will be six times France Telecom's.

We skip a couple of paragraphs, down to the next-to-last:

"Telecommunications is probably the sector that devotes the largest part of its income to investment, among companies listed on the stock market, In the last ten years, it has reinvested almost 18% of its income, far above cement producers (16%) or automobiles (13%)."

Hmm. More bullishness on the sector.

Here's the last para:

"Regarding France Telecom's investments in Spain, the CEO stressed that much of the €1.5 billion will be destined to the construction of its third-generation network. "Currently only 200,000 of the 11 million clients that we have use UMTS technology, and our goal is to accelerate its implantation in order to gain 25% of the market." By the end of the year, 75% of the population will have coverage. France Telecom considers Spain as a key country in its strategy, as it demonstrated when it acquired Amena for €10.6 billion one year ago."

Also, there's a sidebar, which begins, "The next battle in the telecommunications sector will be the implantation of telephones which offer both fixed-line and mobile services. This telephone was launched a few days ago in France by France Telecom and will soon be introduced in Spain."

Gee, I dunno, but it seems to me that La Vangua has done an awful lot to promote the telecoms sector and especially France Telecom with this whole shebang, especially the front-page banner head and the first business page.

By the way, if we flip five pages back to the stock market quotes, we see that France Telecom is down 13.96% on the year.

Now, here's something really interesting. On page 5, the first full-page ad in today's edition of La Vangua is for...Orange! It's just a black page with the slogan, in orange, "Life is better when everything really important to you is within your reach. Mobile. Internet. Fixed-line. TV. Orange."

How do I get in on this deal?

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