French economy minister Emmanuel Macron has given a green light to Numericable’s acquisition of SFR. The move was necessary thanks to a decree signed by his predecessor, Arnaud Montebourg, in May that made foreign investments in certain strategic industries subject to government approval.
The ministry confirmed to French press that approval had been given, but did not communicate it in an official statement. Numericable’s acquisition of its larger rival had been publicly opposed by Montebourg, who had favoured a rival bid by Bouygues Telecom.
The acquisition had already been approved by France’s competition regulator in October.
Montebourg had earlier demanded that Patrick Drahi, the billionaire investor behind Altice, Numericable’s majority owner, become a French resident for tax purposes, which Drahi has not done.
Montebourg in May extended an earlier decree related to investments in the defence and gambling industries to cover energy, transport, water, health and telecoms.