French cable operator Numericable has launched two new connected TV initiatives and has confirmed plans to launch a 4G mobile service next month as reports surface of a renewed attempt to merge with Vivendi-owned mobile operator SFR.
Numericable has launched VideoShot TV, a new service that allows users to capture video from TV programmes and share it on Facebook. Subscribers with La Box Fibre set-tops will be able to publish 15-second clips of TV shows on their Facebook wall and simultaneously share their TV programmes with friends.
Numericable is also launching Le Restart, a new restart TV service that will allow subscribers to restart shows from a select number of channels. Channels available currently include BeIN Sports 1 and 2, OCS Max, OCS City, OCS Choc, OCS Géants, Kombat Sport, MCS Tennis, Disney Cinemagic, Disney XD and Nat Geo Wild. The service will be available from February 5.
Numericable has also confirmed to French press that it will launch a 4G mobile service on February 5 using SFR’s network. Numericable has attracted a limited number of mobile customers to date.
The 4G announcement comes as French news service BFM Business reports that Patrick Drahi, owner of Numericable majority owner Altice, is making a fresh attempt to strike a merger between the cable operator and SFR.
According to BFM Business, Drahi is attempting to put together an all-cash offer of between €10-13 billion, with three quarters raised from debt and the remainder mostly from money raised by Numericable’s IPO and that of Altice itself.
The report says that any deal will likely take the form of a leveraged buyout, where SFR’s own cash flows or assets would be used as collateral.
Such a deal would have the attraction of allowing SFR owner Vivendi to extract itself immediately from the company rather than remain a minority shareholder, which was seen as a sticking point of Drahi’s previous attempt to secure the merger of the pair.
Numericable’s hand is seen as having been strengthened by its flotation, which has given the company an objective market value, removing the possibility of Vivendi contesting it.