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Vivendi cosies up to Altice for SFR sale

AT&T-DirecTV merger closer to reality with DirecTV shareholder approval

French conglomerate Vivendi has entered into exclusive negotiations with cable company Altice over the sale of mobile operator SFR. The move rebuffs an alternative proposal from rival operator Bouygues Telecom.

Vivendi said the deal would help it reach its objective to rapidly become a leading European media and content player and develop SFR as a dynamic leader in high speed fixed and mobile telephony.

The Supervisory Board at Vivendi said that it will hold exclusive negotiations with Altice for a period of three weeks, as it considers the offer more “pertinent” for the group’s shareholders and employees. However, the Board did not rule out Bouygues’ offer entirely and said that at the end of the three weeks, it will meet again to examine the next steps and “decide if it should put an end to the other options envisaged”.

Altice’s offer consists of an €11.75bn payment to Vivendi as well as a 32 per cent equity share in the combined listed entity that would be formed by a merger between SFR and cable provider Numericable, in which Altice owns a 40 per cent stake.

On March 5th 2013, Altice said it made an offer of €10.9bn in cash as well as shares representing 32 per cent of the share capital of the new entity. At the time, Altice said its offer will only remain valid until March 14th 2013, but it appears the firm had increased its offer.

Bouygues too had increased its offer prior to Vivendi’s decision. On Thursday it offered €11.3bn in cash – €800m more than the initial offer of €10.5bn and a 43 per cent stake in the new entity that would be formed by the merger, which is three per cent less than the 46 per cent stake it had originally offered to Vivendi.

Bouygues also announced earlier this week that it had entered into exclusive negotiations with rival Free, owned by parent company Iliad, to sell its mobile phone network and portfolio of frequencies for “up to €1.8bn”. The deal was conditional upon Bouygues successfully completing its bid for SFR.


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