February 27, 2014 / 7:06 PM / in 4 years

Bouygues hires banks to advise on potential tie-up with SFR - sources

PARIS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Bouygues, France’s third-place mobile operator, has hired investment banks HSBC and Rothschild to advise it on a potential tie-up with larger rival Vivendi’s SFR, said two people close to the situation.

SFR, which is second-place in mobile behind Orange, was put into play this week after Vivendi confirmed on Monday that it had been approached for a deal by Altice, the parent company of French cable operator Numericable.

Bouygues is now evaluating whether to try to crash the party, the people said. Yet, it faces an uphill battle given that merging the number two and three mobile operators would certainly attract regulatory scrutiny, a handicap a Numericable offer would not face.

A spokeswoman for Bouygues was not immediately available to comment. A spokesman for Vivendi declined to comment.

Reporting by Sophie Sassard and Leila Abboud; Editing by Maya Nikolaeva

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