Vivendi starts to review rival bids for SFR: sources

Sat Mar 8, 2014 12:53pm EST
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PARIS (Reuters) - A committee of board directors at Vivendi (VIV.PA: Quote) met on Saturday to review rival offers for telecoms unit SFR and prepare a meeting of the supervisory council possibly at the end of the week, sources close to the matter said.

Vivendi is weighing options on how to split its telecoms from its media activities and has given itself until the end of the month to choose between selling the telecoms operator or spinning it off through a flotation as initially planned, sources have told Reuters previously.

"An ad hoc committee met this morning to review all the aspects of the two offers," one of the sources said.

Last week, the French group received two indicative bids for SFR. One, from French construction and telecoms firm Bouygues (BOUY.PA: Quote), tabled 10.5 billion euros ($14.4 billion) in cash for 46 percent of the Vivendi unit.

Another stems from French cable operator Numericable NUME.PA with 11 billion euros in cash and would grant Vivendi a 32 percent stake in the new company, sources said earlier.

Vivendi declined to comment.

France's competition watchdog estimates it could take nine months to scrutinize a possible takeover of SFR by Bouygues or Numericable, its head said in an interview published on Saturday.

A tie-up between SFR and Bouygues would create Europe's seventh-biggest telecoms group by sales. In France, it would rank ahead of current market leader Orange (ORAN.PA: Quote) in terms of market share.

The competition watchdog said a deep investigation of the potential tie-up was "most likely" in light of the complexity of the issues it raised.   Continued...

A woman enters a French mobile phone operator SFR shop in Paris August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau