French media group Vivendi, parent company of telco SFR, has entered into exclusive negotiations with Belgian incumbent Belgacom for the acquisition of 100% of its Telindus France ICT solutions unit, Fierce Wireless reports. According to the article, the deal would allow SFR and Telindus to ‘build on their complementary expertise and experience of collaboration’. However, spokespeople for Vivendi and SFR have confirmed to the press that the media group is making the move in order to strengthen SFR’s unified communications services for enterprise users ahead of the company’s spin-off; the acquisition will also be subject to approval by the Autorite de la Concurrence (Competition Authority). 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, in a move designed to reduce its exposure in the telecoms market and focus on its more profitable media operations.
In separate, but related news, French cable provider Numericable is reportedly planning to make an offer for SFR before its listing. Local newspaper Les Echos reports that although discussions have not officially reopened, a ‘battalion of consultants’ are said to be working on possible synergies. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Numericable’s private equity owners Carlyle, Cinven and Altice first entered into discussions with Vivendi over a multi-billion euro merger with SFR in October 2012, although talks between the involved parties subsequently stalled, in February 2013.