Bouygues to sell network and spectrum to Free if SFR deal goes through

French mobile operator Bouygues Telecom has announced that it has 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 is conditional upon Bouygues successfully completing its bid for rival SFR. Last week, SFR parent group and French conglomerate Vivendi announced it had received two competing bids for the nation’s second placed operator, including a bid from Bouygues of €10.5bn in cash and 46 per cent of the new entity.

French cable operator Altice also made a bid for the operator, which is understood to be higher than Bouygues’ but the company has not made details public.

According to Bouygues, selling its network and spectrum to Free will mean that it can present the French Competition Authority with measures designed to create a competitive market for consumers. It added that this agreement, along with a merger between itself and SFR, would restore a level playing field in the telecoms sector and would boost employment and facilitate investment. The operator added that the deals would improve quality of service and innovation for consumers.

“I welcome this agreement, since it means we can go to the Competition Authority with a plan for a merger between SFR and Bouygues Telecom which now includes measures that ensure strong, infrastructure-based competition on the French mobile phone market,” said Martin Bouygues, chairman and CEO at Bouygues.

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