SFR minority shareholder Charity & Investment Arbitrage (CIMA) has filed a complaint with the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance over SFR parent company Altice’s attempt to make the French service provider pay the total amount of a fine imposed by country’s competition watchdog.
The Autorité de la Concurrence levied the €80 million fine over the pair’s ‘jumping the gun’ by effectively merging their operations ahead of receiving a green light from the regulator.
CIMA has objected to Altice’s plan to have SFR pay the entirety of the fine and wants a 50:50 split with the parent company.
CIMA has also objected to Altice’s plan to rebrand SFR in its own image, arguing that the Altice brand has no public recognition in France and that SFR is a well-established consumer-facing brand with a goodwill value of €904 million.
According to French financial daily Les Echos, citing sources close to SFR, the decision to abandon the SFR brand will translate into a depreciation of goodwill associated with the brand that will have no negative impact on the group’s balance sheet or EBITDA.
CIMA has also objected to Altice boss Patrick Drahi’s plan to relocate the French service provider from its Saint-Denis base to new, allegedly more expensive offices.
CIMA last year objected to Altice’s plan to take over all of the shares in SFR that it did not already own, writing the markets regulator the AMF withy an allegation that two members of the administrative committee of SFR tasked with looking into the offer had ties to Altice, and that Accuracy, the firm tasked with evaluating the terms of the transaction, was biased.
The AMF subsequently rejected Altice’s bid to take over the 22.25% that it did not already own, to the parent company’s consternation.
Altice subsequently upped its stake by buying shares on the market.
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