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France Telecom sells €15bn in new shares

Europe's biggest rights issue

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France Telecom today began its much-touted €15bn today, flogging new shares at €14.50 apiece to existing shareholders.

According to Bloomberg, investors are flocking to buy the stock, which represents a discount of 28 per cent on Friday's closing price of €20.20. The French government will stump up 60 per cent of the new money (in line with its shareholding) and will underwrite the rest of the offer in tandem with France Telecom's banks.

The proceeds from Europe's biggest ever rights are to be used to pay down debt at the heavily indebted company. France Telecom currently owes €68bn and is aiming to cut this by 40 per cent by the close of 2005. ®

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