By Leila Abboud
PARIS, April 1 French conglomerate Bouygues
turned up the heat in its battle for control of
Vivendi's telecom unit SFR on Tuesday by extending its
offer to April 25 from April 8 and presenting a 500 million euro
($689 million) break-up fee.
Bouygues is seeking to muscle its way back into the running
for SFR despite Vivendi being in exclusive talks with cable
group Numericable until Friday.
To that end, Bouygues last week increased the cash portion
of its bid by 1.85 billion euros to 13.15 billion euros and
offered Vivendi a 21.5 percent stake in the new entity, instead
of 43 percent under its previous proposal.
Altice, the parent company of Numericable, is now debating
whether to raise the cash portion of its offer to match
Bouygues, ahead of a decisive board meeting set for Friday, said
a person close to the situation.
Its current bid includes 11.75 billion euros in cash and a
would leave Vivendi with a 32 percent stake in a new merged
company. The cash portion of Numericable's bid will be financed
via 8.35 billion euros in debt and a 3.4 billion euro capital
increase, which parent Altice will subscribe at 75 percent,
sources earlier said.
In a note published on Tuesday, Barclays analysts wrote that
Bouygues latest offer "will likely mean that Numericable/Altice
have to increase their cash proportion too".
"With debt already significant, an adjustment to the capital
raise appears inevitable to us," the analysts wrote.
A spokesman for Altice, the holding company of
Numericable's biggest shareholder Patrick Drahi, declined to
comment on Tuesday evening while Vivendi earlier declined to
Bouygues said the break-up fee was payable should
regulatory authorities refuse to approve its takeover - a key
question mark over its takeover proposal which would cut the
number of France's mobile operators to three from four.
Sources told Reuters about the inclusion of the break-up fee
on March 26.
Official confirmation of the fee's existence follows a call
on Friday from markets watchdog AMF for more transparency from
($1 = 0.7256 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Maya Nikolaeva, Cyril Altmeyer and
Andrew Callus; Editing by Leigh Thomas and William Hardy)