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New look to French telecoms

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 01:36

April 7 - Shares in French cable company Numericable jump 17 percent after it wins a month-long bidding war for Vivendi's SFR telecom unit. As Sonia Legg reports the news is a major blow to Bouygues - the firm favored by the French government.

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It's been a long war but Numericable has won the French telecoms battle for Vivendi SFR. The cable company will buy the telecom unit for 13.5 billion euros. An improved offer from rival Bouygues failed to sway them, to the delight of Numericable's billionaire backer Patrick Drahi. (SOUNDBITE) (French) ALTICE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN PATRICK DRAHI SAYING: "I am very happy for our group and the employees of both groups in France, and all of the clients, almost 30 million of them in France. As you know it's a project I believed in, and still believe in, for more than seven years and it's a project of the future." Drahi's Altice will own 60% of the combined group, Vivendi will retain a 20% share - the remainder will be floated on the stock market BGC's Mike Ingram. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC MARKET STRATEGIST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "Vivendi has come out of this very well - 13 and a half billion euros in cash - it's still got an equity stake in the combined entity plus a combined milestone payment so there's an upside there. And it also means Vivendi can focus exclusively on the medium sector." Numericable's shares soared 17%. It's promised to preserve jobs and its chances of regulatory approval helped win the day. (SOUNDBITE) (French) ALTICE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN PATRICK DRAHI SAYING: "We've made the promises that the ministers and so on were concerned that we make, and we'll stick to them." The deal will certainly reshape Europe's third biggest telecoms market. It's been suffering from brutal price competition since low-cost rival Iliad entered the mobile arena two years ago. Iliad's shares fell 5% with Bouygues seeing a 6% drop.

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New look to French telecoms

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 01:36