Battle of the billionaires: France's Vivendi receives two binding offers for telco subsidiary SFR

There's an epic bidding war going on in France for Vivendi's ailing telco subsidiary SFR. The company just announced that it's received two offers from billionaire-owned companies, Bouygues and Altice.
Battle of the billionaires: France's Vivendi receives two binding offers for telco subsidiary SFR

French multinational mass media and telecommunication company Vivendi just announced that it has received two binding offers for a controlling stake in its SFR subsidiary, France's second-biggest telco.

Internet service provider Numericable's parent company, Altice, has reportedly offered to buy into SFR at a 15 billion euro valuation.

Vivendi has now confirmed the interest of Altice, backed by multi-billionaire Patrick Drahi, and has revealed that it has received a binding offer from Bouygues as well.

Bouygues is the family company of another billionaire, Martin Bouygues, and he's not the only uber-wealthy businessman in the running.

As Reuters points out, low-cost telco Iliad founder, prolific angel investor and Le Monde co-owner Xavier Niel could potentially "crash the party" with a late bid.

Vivendi says its Supervisory Board will examine all offers as it considers a sale, while also weighing another option, which is spinning off the SFR unit wholesale later this year.

According to Reuters, nine banks have committed up to 12 billion euros to bankroll Altice's offer of around 14.75 billion euros in cash and shares, with Vivendi retaining a 32 percent stake in the new company. Bouygues' bid, in turn, would be financed with a combination of cash, debt, and shares in the new company.

According to a Le Figaro report, Bouygues said it could reap 10 billion euros in synergies from the SFR combo and would leave Vivendi with a 40 percent stake, bringing its offer to a value "above 15 billion euros" for the French telecoms carrier.

As of 2013, SFR has 21.3 million customers in France, providing 5.2 million households with high-speed Internet access and serving 165,000 business customers.

Its turnover at the end of December 2013 was more than 10 billion euros.

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