|Free, France Telecom enterrent la hache de guerre|
|Written by Dave Burstein|
|Monday, 16 August 2010 19:16|
"Burying the hatchet" between Free.fr and FT became easier when "good cop" Stephane Richard became CEO, replacing "bad cop" Didier Lombard. Xavier Niel may be a bad boy, but with 5M customers and strong profits he's not going away. Fiber in France has been delayed nearly two years by FT causing disputes at the regulator, and after the peace agreement should be able to grow rapidly.
Niel is dropping his competition suit against FT while FT is dropping their libel suit against Iliad/Free. There's probably a payment or unannounced sidedeal. The evidence that France Telecom abused competition law was strong enough to justify hundreds of millions in fines, so Free.fr had a likely winning case. Niel certainly said many things about France Telecom that would be libelous if false, but I believe them all substantially true.
Figaro still calls Xavi "adepte de la provocation" but he's also a successful businessman who will need to cooperate with the other telcos on the mobile and fiber networks. France Telecom is spending most of their expansion capital and attention outside of the country, including a current offer to buy into Moroccan mobile. They also benefit from toning down the war on the home front.
"Burying the hatchet" in the U.S. is illustrated with a picture of a native American, so I was surprised to find a similar phrase in France. However, no one in North America likely matched the fervor of the Celts and Gauls who invaded Italy and sacked Rome around 387 BCE, Roman accounts have the Celts as naked painted warriors whose ferocity caused trained Roman troops to break ranks and flee in terror.
Did Gauls and Celts carry hatchets?.