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Bouygues extends SFR purchase offer

Bouygues Telecom is persisting with its efforts to acquire rival operator SFR

French operator Bouygues Telecom has extended its offer to acquire rival SFR by 17 days in a bid to prevent the company being sold to  cable operator Altice.

On March 20 2014, Bouygues increased its offer for SFR to €13.15bn, despite SFR’s parent Vivendi already announcing that it had entered into exclusive negotiations over the sale with Altice.

Bouygues’ initially set a deadline for its offer of April 8 2014, but has now extended that deadline to April 25 2014. The firm said it “wishes to allow Vivendi the time to examine its offer in a calm and detailed manner, and to proceed with all the necessary discussions that such an important operation requires”.

Bouygues added that it has committed to pay a break-up fee to Vivendi of €500m if the deal does not gain regulatory approval or if it pulls out of the deal due to conditions laid down by the regulators.

But if Vivendi goes ahead with Altice’s offer the buyer intends to form a merger with SFR and Altice’s cable subsidiary Numericable. However, if Bouygues is successful, it has pledged to sell its own network to the market’s newest entrant Free, which would bring the number of MNOs in the French market from four to three. Market leader Orange claimed that either scenario would sit well with the operator.

“Orange welcomes the recent consolidation projects of French telecom industry players, which are a reaction to the destabilisation of the market we’ve been calling attention to for several months,” the operator told Telecoms.com in a statement.

“Indeed, this consolidation brings hope of a more level playing field, particularly the need for all telcos to finance major investments – and therefore adopt more rational approaches. Whichever scenario is adopted, Orange intends to remain the stable point of the French market and continue rolling out its superfast broadband networks and its convergent sales strategy, in line with customers’ expectations, as well as strengthen its leadership through the constant improvement of quality of service.

“Orange will remain extremely watchful of the conditions under which these merger and acquisition operations will take place.”


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