* Antitrust watchdog against informal merger plan - report
* Vivendi, Iliad sounded out regulator - report
* Vivendi, Iliad, Autorite de la Concurrence decline to
(Adds details, background)
PARIS, Jan 3 France's antitrust watchdog has
opposed a proposal by Iliad and Vivendi to
merge their mobile telecoms units, BFM radio reported on its
website on Thursday.
The two companies have contacted French competition
authorities about a possible merger between Iliad's low-cost
mobile operator Free and Vivendi's SFR, BFM said, without citing
The regulator said it would oppose a merger because it would
create a duopoly in the French broadband internet market along
with France Telecom's Orange, the website added.
SFR, Vivendi's biggest unit, has suffered from the arrival
of Free in the market last January.
Entertainment-to-media conglomerate Vivendi began a strategy
review in May to boost its flagging share price and cut debt,
and has put units in Brazil and Morocco up for sale.
Its chief executive said last month the future of SFR would
depend, in part, on whether regulators approved network-sharing
deals or mergers, after he predicted the group's future would
lie in its content and media business.
BFM also reported industrialist Vincent Bollore, who was
given a seat on Vivendi's board in December, would be opposed to
a merger between SFR and French cable operator Numericable.
Iliad, Vivendi and France's antitrust watchdog, Autorite de
la Concurrence, declined to comment.
Vivendi shares were trading 2 percent lower at 17.08 euros
while Iliad was down 0.6 percent at 131.6 euros at 1115 GMT.
(Reporting by Elena Berton and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Dan
Lalor and Mark Potter)