Altice offers €3.9bn for Vivendi’s Numericable-SFR stake

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Vivendi board to decide on French conglomerate’s proposal on 27 February.

Altice late on Tuesday made a €3.9 billion offer for Vivendi’s 20% holding in Numericable-SFR.

The French media conglomerate acquired the stake as part of its €17 billion agreement to sell its SFR mobile arm to Altice, parent of cableco Numericable, in April last year. The deal was approved by regulators in late October.

The transaction proposed on Tuesday would see Altice acquire half of Vivendi’s holding via a share buyback programme requiring approval from Numericable-SFR shareholders. The other half would take the form of a €1.95 billion payment plus 3.8% annual interest to be made by 7 April 2016.

“The Vivendi management board will examine this offer in the coming days. The supervisory board, convening on 27 February, will decide on any subsequent action to be taken,” said Vivendi, in a statement on Wednesday.

If approved, the acquisition would take effect following the Numericable-SFR annual shareholder meeting, scheduled for 30 April this year.

Meanwhile, Altice has also allegedly stepped up its interest in acquiring the wireless assets of rival mobile provider Bouygues Telecom.

According to a Bloomberg report late last week, it is currently examining the financial and regulatory obstacles to a merger.

Bouygues was in the running to acquire SFR last year, but lost out to Numericable for various reasons, not least of which was the prospect of a smoother regulatory review process that came with merging with a cable provider as opposed to a rival mobile operator.

Missing out on SFR left Bouygues in a precarious position in the mobile market. It is the third-largest of France’s four mobile operators and fourth-placed Free is hot on its heels.

Stephane Richard, CEO of incumbent Orange, recently reiterated that there is pressure for consolidation in the country’s mobile market.