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War of words erupts between Vivendi and Bouygues

Martin Bouygues

Martin Bouygues

The war of words between Vivendi and Bouygues proprietor Martin Bouygues over the former’s decision to sell SFR to Numericable owner Altice has moved to a new stage following an interview given by Bouygues to Le Figaro in which he attacked Vivendi CEO Jean-René Fourtou and accused him of changing his mind about Bouygues’ offer suddenly and without explanation.

Bouygues said that Fourtou had convinced him in January to make an offer for SFR and had persuaded him of the feasibility of the plan, but had then “totally changed his attitude” just before Bouygues submitted its first formal proposal.

Bouygues also accused Vivendi’s management of using the possibility of a rejection of the plan by the French competition regulator as a pretext for choosing Altice when no real threat of a regulatory veto existed.

Vivendi issued a statement saying that the procedures that led to its choice of Altice were wholly transparent and that the decision had been taken with the interests of employees and shareholders constantly in mind, despite the teams involved in the negotiations being subject to constant pressure and negative campaigning.

The group said it declined to enter into a public argument with Bouygues but hinted at the possibility of further action by noting that it “reserves all its rights”.