Altice completes SFR acquisition, gets thumbs up for Virgin buy

French cable group Altice has completed its acquisition of mobile operator SFR from Vivendi for €13.66 billion. Meanwhile ARCEP, the French telecoms regulator has given the go-ahead for Altice to also acquire Virgin Mobile France.

Under the terms of the SFR deal, €200 million of the sale price will be contributed to the financing of the Virgin purchase by Altice’s subsidiary Numericable. Vivendi will keep a 20% stake in the new company, which will be known as Numericable-SFR.

“By bringing together Numericable and SFR, we are creating the French champion in very high speed broadband and in the convergence of fixed and mobile networks. This is a trend throughout the sector, borne out across Europe and around the world,” Patrick Drahi, founder and Chairman of the Altice group, and Chairman of the Board of the new Numericable-SFR group said.

The €325 million Virgin Mobile France deal was approved by the French regulator as Altice accepted the previously posed conditions, including that Numercable will open its network for rivals to rent broadband capacity. This will ensure rivals can also offer mobile and internet bundles to customers, which ARCEP said prevents Numericable to gain too dominant a position.

Numericable operates a high-speed fibre network in France, and it has a hybrid business model targeting the B2C, B2B and wholesale segments. The company claims to hold a 68% share of France’s nascent very-high-speed broadband market.

Altice has been a busy bee in the M&A space lately, also making an offer for Portugal Telecom earlier this month. The group also recently indicated it is open to the possibility of acquiring another French operator Bouygues Telecom. It remains to be seen how much more of the French market Altice can really take over.

In related news, Altice has already stroke a partnership with CTT, the Portuguese postal service provider to offer joint-services in Portugal were the French firm’s bid for PT to be successful. The two partners will apparently collaborate in the distribution of telecoms services and products, as well as the development of new business ventures to address the growth of e-commerce and financial services in Portugal. Numericable-SFR also has a partnership with La Poste in France.

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