French broadband provider Numericable, and its majority owner Altice Group of Luxembourg, are reportedly preparing a cash offer of around EUR11 billion (USD15.2 billion) to acquire Vivendi’s telecoms unit SFR, Bloomberg reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. According to the article, Altice Group’s CEO Patrick Drahi has obtained guarantees from lenders amounting to EUR8 billion, and will reportedly seek to raise the remainder through capital increases.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in September 2013 Vivendi announced plans to demerge its telecoms unit SFR from its media business by setting up two separate companies. Since then, the second largest telco in the French telecoms market has attracted the attention of three potential suitors: Numericable, Bouygues Telecom and Iliad, which owns fourth-largest domestic cellco Free Mobile, all of which are reportedly discussing potential offers. In February 2014 Vivendi confirmed that it had been approached for a ‘potential alliance’ deal by Altice Group, while Bouygues hired investment banks HSBC and Rothschild to advise it on a potential tie-up with larger rival SFR. However, people familiar with the matter pointed out that a merger between the second and third/fourth largest players in the market is likely to attract the scrutiny of telecoms regulator, the Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep), unlike a potential tie-up between SFR and broadband operator Numericable.