(Refiled to correct punctuation)
PARIS, March 27 Vivendi will examine
the latest Bouygues offer for its SFR telecoms
subsidiary "with all the necessary rigour" while respecting a
three-week exclusivity period granted to negotiations with a
rival bidder, newspaper le Figaro said on Thursday.
Vivendi's chairman, Jean-Rene Fourtou, sent a letter dated
March 24 to Martin Bouygues, chief executive of the construction
to telecoms conglomerate, laying out this position, the
newspaper said, citing a copy of the letter.
"The management of Vivendi - out of concern for the group's
interests as well as of its shareholders and employees - will
examine the offer with all the necessary rigour, according to
the criteria set out by the board, while strictly applying our
exclusivity pledge," the paper quoted Fourtou as saying.
Fourtou was responding to a March 22 letter from Martin
Bouygues urging the Vivendi chairman to give fair consideration
of Bouygues' modified bid for SFR after Vivendi's board had
already chosen Numericable as its preferred bidder.
Bouygues's latest offer for SFR, which was submitted six
days after Vivendi chose to start exclusive talks with
Numericable, raised the cash portion of its offer by 1.85
billion euros to 13.15 billion while cutting the stake Vivendi
would hold in a combined SFR-Bouygues Telecom to 21.5 percent
from 46 percent.
Cable group Numericable's bid includes 11.75 billion euros
in cash and a 32 percent equity stake in Numericable and Vivendi
is in exclusive talks with Numericable until April 4, when
Vivendi's board is due to meet.
The takeover fight for SFR, France's second-biggest mobile
operator behind Orange, will reshape the market, which
has been in the throes of a price war since the arrival of
low-cost upstart Iliad's Free Mobile two years ago.
Vivendi wants to exit telecoms - despite SFR bringing in
nearly half of its revenue last year - to focus more on its
media businesses, including pay-television and music.
A spokesman for Vivendi could not immediately be reached for
(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Greg Mahlich)