LONDON May 16 Carphone Warehouse and
entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Group have entered
exclusive talks with French telecoms company Numericable
to sell Virgin Mobile France, their joint venture
mobile virtual network operator, for an enterprise value of 325
million euros ($446 million), Carphone and Numericable said on
Carphone, Europe's biggest independent mobile phone retailer
which on Thursday announced plans for an all-share merger with
Dixons Retail, Europe's second-biggest electricals
retailer, owns 46 percent of Virgin Mobile France's holding
company Omer Telecom Ltd.
Branson's Virgin Group also owns 46 percent with
the balance held by management.
Carphone said the shareholders had entered into an
exclusivity agreement with Numericable regarding the proposed
"During the exclusivity period the parties will carry out
the necessary consultations with employee work councils, with
the transaction also being subject to the approval of the French
Competition Authority," Carphone said.
Virgin Mobile France has struggled in an intensely
competitive French market, and analysts following Carphone have
long speculated it would dispose of its stake.
Last month Virgin Mobile France reported an 8.6 percent fall
in fourth quarter revenue.
Numericable, which recently won a takeover battle for
Vivendi's French mobile network operator SFR, said
Vivendi would contribute 200 million euros to funding the
It said the acquisition would help it accelerate its
strategy of converging high-speed fixed and mobile telecom
($1 = 0.7291 Euros)
(Reporting by James Davey and Natalie Huet in Paris; Editing by
Brenda Goh and Greg Mahlich)