Numericable backer Drahi says will not raise SFR bid: report

PARIS Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:09pm EDT

General view of the logo above a store of French cable operator Numericable in Paris, March 7, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

General view of the logo above a store of French cable operator Numericable in Paris, March 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Charles Platiau

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PARIS (Reuters) - Patrick Drahi, the controlling shareholder of French cable group Numericable (NUME.PA), said he would not raise his bid for Vivendi's SFR (VIV.PA), a day ahead of the seller's deadline for final offers, according to an interview in Les Echos.

Numericable is vying to buy SFR, France's second-biggest telecom operator, alongside Bouygues (BOUY.PA), the third-biggest player.

It has offered Vivendi 10.9 billion euros in cash, plus a 32 percent stake in the combined entity. Bouygues' bid includes 10.5 billion euros in cash, and a 46 percent in the new company.

"The offer I've made has been valid since March 5. I have no reason to modify it. I am a man of my word," he told the paper.

Drahi also added that the Numericable-SFR tie-up would create a stronger company that could capitalize on consumers' increasing appetite for high-speed broadband at home and on their mobiles.

"Marrying our network with the commercial strength of the SFR brand, we will be capable of recruiting almost 5 million customers in four years," he predicted.

Drahi said the combined Numericable-SFR would generate "more than 1 billion euros in cash flow synergies per year".

The tie-up would not result in any job cuts, he confirmed, matching a promise made by rival bidder Bouygues. France's government has already said it will monitor the sale of SFR to ensure it does not threaten jobs or network investments.

Vivendi's board is expected to meet on Friday to review the two offers.

(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Andrew Callus)

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