SFR on Weather radar; French consolidation also a possibility

19 Nov 2012

Weather Investments, an international telecoms holding group headed by Naguib Sawiris of Egypt, is reportedly interested in making a bid for Vivendi’s French telecoms operation SFR. Although Sawiris confirmed to the Financial Times that a bid for SFR was under consideration, the likely EUR13 billion (USD16.6 billion) price tag is too high for him to consider a sole offer, so he is now looking for co-investors. Negotiations are still thought to be at an early stage.

Meanwhile, SFR’s CEO Stephane Roussel has said that consolidation could be on the cards in the French telecoms market following the launch of fourth cellular network operator Free Mobile by the Iliad Group at the start of this year. According to a report from local newspaper La Tribune, he said: ‘The number of mobile operators in France is clearly excessive, unreasonable in my opinion.’ He went on to say that three players would be ideal to serve the French market.

Separately, Iliad group is pledging to continue funding Free Mobile’s network rollout as it aims to be providing 75% population coverage by 2015 and 90% three years later. ‘The priority of the group is not roaming, the priority of the group is to roll out its own network,’ Chief financial officer Thomas Reynaud said. The firm, which launched wireless services in mid-January, has revealed that it is targeting ten million mobile subscribers by the end of this year, up from 4.4 million at end-September.

France, SFR, Free Mobile (Iliad),

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