French regulators to rule on SFR-Numericable deal in Q3

PARIS, July 10 Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:28am EDT

PARIS, July 10 (Reuters) - France's competition watchdog will give its ruling on the purchase by cable firm Numericable of mobile player SFR in the third quarter, following an in-depth review, the regulator's boss said on Thursday.

In April, Vivendi picked Numericable as a buyer for SFR - which is France's second-largest mobile player behind Orange - handing billionaire Patrick Drahi's cable firm victory after a fierce, month-long bidding war with No 3. market player Bouygues.

Vivendi will get 13.5 billion euros in cash and keep a 20 percent stake in the new firm.

Bruno Lasserre, the head of France's Autorite de la Concurrence, told a news conference his teams would be examining the deal all summer, as well as a smaller transaction of Numericable buying discount brand Virgin Mobile. It plans to rule on both at the same time.

"The college will meet in October to examine the case and the potential antitrust remedies that have been proposed so as to make a decision in autumn," said Lassere.

Numericable-SFR's rivals have submitted concerns about the tie-up to the regulator, notably around the new company's ability to bundle fixed and mobile services and its clout in the enterprise market. They have also asked for assurance that a firewall exists between the new company and Vivendi, which also owns a pay-TV business. ($1 = 0.7331 Euros) (Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic; Writing by Nathalie Huet; Editing by Leila Abboud)

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