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Drahi goes on offensive as SFR lobbying intensifies

In a sign of intensifying lobbying around the future of French Vivendi-owned mobile and fixed line telco SFR, Patrick Drahi has told Le Figaro newspaper that he has no intention of making large-scale redundancies at the operator and would seek to maintain both SFR’s 8,500 employees and Numericable’s staff of 2,400 if he succeeds in engineering the merger of the pair.  

Drahi, controlling shareholder of cable operator Numericable through his investment vehicle Altice, took the step after a reported meeting between Martin Bouygues, proprietor of rival telco Bouygues Telecom, and French president François Hollande last week.

According to Le Figaro, Drahi has promised to look to French suppliers to support his investments in France and also overseas, where Altice has interests that brought in €2 billion in revenues last year, in contrast to Bouygues, which has turned to suppliers including Huawei and Samsung to deliver its mobile infrastructure.

According to Le Figaro, Drahi wants to crate a large fixed-line operator based on Numericable’s cable network – but using the SFR brand – with mobile, where the market is characterised by smaller margins and a less stable subscriber base, playing a smaller role.

Drahi’s wider aim is to intensify investment in Numericable’s fibre networks to cover 15 million homes by 2020 and recruit about six million subscribers from the 21 million who currently use ADSL broadband in France. He also hopes to capture about 30% of the enterprise market, according to the paper.