Vivendi Said to Favour Numericable Offer to Buy SFR

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French conglomerate Vivendi is said to be favouring a bid from Numericable to buy its SFR mobile network subsidiary over a rival bid from Bouygues Telecom.

France's industry minister, Arnaud Montebourg told journalists that he believes that the Vivendi board, which is meeting today to discuss the rival offers is learning towards the Numericable offer.

A sub-committee of Vivendi's board asked to evaluate the bids decided on Thursday that it preferred Numericable, two people close to the situation told the Reuters news agency.

Numericable has offered to buy the SFR mobile network, and would combine the mobile services with its own cable and landline capabilities to form an integrated telecoms operator.

The rival bid from Bouygues Telecom would see the two mobile networks merge to form the country's largest mobile network. That deal is seen as the more difficult from a regulatory and competition point of view. 

The industry minister had previously indicated support for the Bouygues bid as it would reduce the ruinous competition in the market, which had indicated that getting the deal past regulators might be easier than expected.

However, Vivendi is said to hold different opinions, and a decision is expected shortly.

Vivendi still has the option it was pursuing before the two bids were submitted, and that is to list SFR on the stock market as an independent company. If that were to happen, it could spark two hostile takeover bids from Bouygues and Numericable, and drive up the price they have to offer, leading to a better long term outcome for the shareholders.

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Tags: sfr  vivendi  numericable  bouygues telecom  France 

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