Last year, French operator Numericable approached Vivendi’s telecoms subsidiary SFR for a possible merger, but now the company might launch a takeover bid.
French news channel BFM Business reported that Numcericable’s shareholders (Carlyle, Cinven and Patrick Drahi) are studying an outright cash bid for SFR.
Negotiations about a possible bid have run for a couple of months and it looks like the Numericable owners are becoming impatient.
In early February, Eric Denoyer, CEO, Numericable, believed that a coming together of the two operators would create a real synergy. By partnering, SFR would profit from the high-speed fixed net infrastructure Numericable (4.5 million households connected with 585,000 subscribers in the third quarter 2012) and Numericable would have access to the mobile and fixed customers of SFR.
Currently, Numericable already provides high-speed broadband infrastructure on a wholesale basis to Bouygues Telecom.
In the past Vivendi has said that SFR is not for sale and a merger is not on the cards. However, insiders believe profitability at SFR is under pressure because of the fierce competition in the French telecoms market with retail prices continuing to drop.
SFR is currently valued between 15 and 20 billion euros. Should Numericable want to buy the operator, they would need to bring at least between 3 and 6 billion to the table, according to local analysts.