PARIS Aug 5 Cable TV and telecoms firm
Numericable said it had won 16 percent more new
clients than a year ago in the second quarter at an improved
average revenue per user despite cut-throat competition in the
The group was the victor of this year's fight for control of
media group Vivendi's French mobile operator SFR.
Financing of the SFR deal, which it said was on track to
close by the end of the year, delivered a net loss for the
period of 118.4 million euros against a profit of 23.6 million a
Numericable's existing business, which offers packages of
pay-TV, Internet and fixed-line calls, produced earnings before
interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) up 1.8
percent at 156.7 million euros ($209.4 million).
On July 30 the French competition authority said it would
carry out an in-depth review of the Numericable-SFR deal, which
would put the country's second-largest mobile player into the
hands of billionaire Patrick Drahi.
Drahi holds 40 percent of Numericable through his
Dutch-listed holding company Altice. Vivendi chose his
offer over a rival one from industry number three Bouygues
A deal with Bouygues may have raised deeper competition
issues, but it would have reduced the number of French mobile
players to three from four - a move the government has been
pressing for in an attempt to ease cut-throat competition in the
sector and preserve jobs.
Since Vivendi's decision to sell to Numericable, there has
been further speculation of sector consolidation, but none has
materialised, with talks between market leader Orange
and Bouygues having foundered on price.
Already depressed telecoms sector shares dipped lower again
last week when low cost new entrant Iliad, whose "Free"
brand sparked the price war in the first place and was seen as
another potential consolidator, turned its attention to a bid
for U.S. telecoms player Sprint Corp.
(1 US dollar = 0.7482 euro)
(Reporting by Andrew Callus; editing by Michel Rose)