French conglomerate Bouygues Group is reportedly looking for additional investors in order to further improve its offer for larger domestic telecoms rival SFR, a unit of French media group Vivendi, Reuters reports. According to unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Bouygues has also added a EUR500 million (USD689.5 million) break-up fee to address Vivendi’s concerns that competition regulators could block the potential merger, as it would reduce the number of mobile players in the market from four to three. Further, local newspaper Le Figaro has reported that Vivendi’s chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou sent a letter to Bouygues’ CEO Martin Bouygues, saying: ‘The management of Vivendi – out of concern for the group’s interests as well as of its shareholders and employees – will examine the offer with all the necessary rigour, according to the criteria set out by the board, while strictly applying our exclusivity pledge’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, last week Bouygues Telecom increased its bid for rival domestic cellco SFR, with the updated offer comprising EUR13.15 billion in upfront payment and a 21.5% share in the equity of the newly combined entity, despite an earlier announcement that Vivendi had entered into exclusive talks with broadband provider Numericable and its majority owner Altice Group of Luxembourg. Bouygues also enlisted the support of the government through the state Caisse des Depots et Consignations (CDC) fund, along with existing Bouygues Telecom shareholder JCDecaux Holding and the Pinault family, which runs retailer Kering. The three would hold a combined 11.5% stake in the new company at the deal’s close, while Bouygues would own 67%.