Bouygues Telecom has entered into exclusive talks with Iliad Telecom to sell its mobile telecom frequencies and network to the Free operator for up to €1.8 billion, in a move that is seen as clearing the way for Bouygues’ acquisition of Vivendi-backed SFR.
The sale will only take place if the acquisition of SFR goes ahead and regulatory approvals are granted.
Iliad said that in a market reconfigured to three major players, the acquisition of Bouygues mobile arm would enable Free Mobile to accelerate its plans against a background of strong infrastructure competition and would enable it to strengthen its independence and its portfolio of frequencies.
Bouygues is locked in a battle with Altice, principal shareholder of cable operator Numericable, to strike a deal with Vivendi and secure the acquisition of SFR.
While Bouygues’ proposal is widely seen as the more attractive financially, concerns have been raised about whether it would secure the approval of the country’s competition regulator.
Iliad announced at the end of last week that it had recruited 2.8 million new mobile subscribers last year, alongside 276,000 fixed line customers. The company now has 5.64 million high-speed internet subscribers and 8.04 million mobile customers.