The ad hoc committee set up by Vivendi to weigh the rival offers for telecom unit SFR tabled by Numericable shareholder Altice and construction-to-telecoms conglomerate Bouygues came out yesterday in favour of a deal with Numericable, according to a report in financial daily Les Echos, without citing sources.
According to the paper, the committee’s opinion is not decisive but is likely to carry weight as Vivendi’s board meets to consider the matter this morning. Vivendi has confirmed that its supervisory board is meeting now to consider the two offers.
The belief that Vivendi is leaning towards a deal with Numericable was given weight by an interview given by industry minister Arnaud Montebourg to the Europe 1 radio station this morning. Montebourg, who is know to favour a deal with Bouygues, in part due to his belief that France would benefit from a reduction in the number of mobile telecom players from four to three, said that he “understood” that Vivendi “prefers the choice of Numericable”.
Montebourg underlined what he sees as the risks of the Numericable option, citing the latter’s debt levels and the relatively small size of Numericable relative to SFR.
Montebourg also criticised the tax arrangements of Altice proprietor Patrick Drahi, citing the fact that Numericable is owned by a holding company based in Luxembourg and quoted on the Amsterdam stock exchange, while Drahi is a Swiss resident with holding based in Guernsey.
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