France’s competition authority, the Autorite de la Concurrence, has launched phase two of its in-depth investigation of Altice Group’s proposed acquisition of domestic telco SFR, as the ‘transaction raises serious competition concerns’. According to a press release, during the second phase of the investigation the authority will engage in extensive consultations with stakeholders in the marketplace, while also taking into account the opinion of the Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) and the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA). If necessary, the Autorite de la Concurrence may also consult stakeholders with regards to possible remedies that could be introduced should the merger be found to impede competition. The watchdog has noted that its investigation must be performed within 65 working days, altough the period of review may be extended if necessary.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, on 5 April 2014 SFR’s parent Vivendi accepted a takeover offer for the telecoms unit from cable group Numericable, itself majority owned by Altice Group. The two sides signed a definite merger agreement covering the tie-up of their respective subsidiaries in June, following the successful completion of negotiations with the Employee Works Councils. Vivendi will receive EUR13.5 billion (USD18.36 billion), excluding adjustments, and will retain a 20% stake in the newly merged business entity, which it can sell at a later stage, following the expiration of a one year lock-up period.