Vivendi accepts Altice’s offer for SFR

French conglomerate Vivendi has accepted investment vehicle Altice’s offer for its mobile operator subsidiary SFR. Under the terms of the offer SFR will merge with Altice subsidiary and cable operator Numericable and Vivendi will receive €13.5bn for SFR as well as a 20 per cent stake in the new merged entity. The firm estimates the total value of the offer at around €17bn.

In approving Altice’s offer Vivendi rejected several bids from rival mobile operator Bouygues Telecom. Bouygues most recently made an offer of €13.15bn in cash as well as 21.5 per cent stake in the firm created by its own merger with SFR. The offer came despite Vivendi already having announced that it had entered into exclusive negotiations over the sale of SFR with Altice.

Vivendi said that it reviewed Altice’s offer, as well as the letters and documents sent by Bouygues’ during the exclusive negotiation period, over eight working sessions held behind closed doors. The French conglomerate added that it sought the help of legal and financial experts to aid it in making its decision. Following the review, the Supervisory Board decided unanimously to select Altice’s offer.

According to Vivendi, the offer presented the highest growth potential, would generate the highest value for its customers, employees and shareholders and best met Vivendi’s objectives.

Vivendi explained that a key factor in its decision was the potential benefits of the merger formed by SFR and Numericable. Vivendi noted that the merger would create many synergies from Numericable’s fixed network and SFR’s mobile network. The merged entity would also open new opportunities for quadruple play offerings, it added.

Altice’s offer “fully guarantees development of sustainable employment”, which the firm said was a prerequisite in its selection process. It added that the Altice offer presented the lowest risk to competition in the French telecoms market.

The news comes as a blow to France’s newest mobile operator Free Mobile, which potentially stood to acquire Bouygues’ mobile network and portfolio of frequencies for “up to €1.8bn”, if Bouygues was successful in its bid for SFR.

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