Vivendi’s telecom subsidiary SFR is in talks with the leading French cable operator Numéricable, according to local press reports.
The two companies are looking to merge their operations. The cabler is owned by two private equity funds, Cinven Carlyle and Patrick Drahi’s Altice. It currently has a debt of around €2.9 billion.
SFR is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vivendi and the company has hired BNP Paribas et Goldman Sachs to work on a deal. Numéricable has Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan as its advisors.
SFR has 20 million mobile customers and another five million fixed line IP customers. Numéricable has around 944,000 triple play subscribers its cable network, as well as 410,000 analogue TV subscribers (as per March 31, 2012).
Another 226,000 homes subscribe to one of the cabler’s white label products, which are sold through third-party resellers (Bouygues Télécom, Auchan).
The past few days various French newspapers have speculated about the possible deal. One scenario is that Vivendi would take a 49% interest in the newly merged company, as well as a payment in cash.
Another scenario calls for the new entity to be sold to Vodafone. Vivendi bought Vodafone’s 44% share of SFR for over €7.7 billion in June last year.