Altice makes unsolicited bid for Bouygues Telecom


French telecoms group Altice has made an offer to buy the third largest French mobile operator Bouygues Telecom, but the bid is unsolicited and may be declined.

In brief statements Altice said: “Altice S.A. announces that it has made an offer to acquire Bouygues Telecom through Altice’s subsidiary, Numericable-SFR. Altice will update the market in due course.” While Bouygues said: “Bouygues confirms that it has received an unsolicited offer from the Altice group to start negotiations with a view to buying Bouygues Telecom. Bouygues’ Board of Directors will meet on Tuesday 23 June 2015 to review Altice’s letter. No negotiations are in progress.”

Altice has been highly acquisitive in recent months, completing its swoop for France’s second largest operator SFR back in November as well as getting involved in the Portuguese and US markets. It has also been linked to Bouygues Telecom in the recent past as the backlash from the entry of Free Mobile into the French market has prompted a wave of consolidation.

Combining Bouygues with SFR would create the largest French mobile operator by subscriber numbers, placing it well ahead of current number one Orange and leaving Free in a very distant third. It would also be merged into the SFR/Numericable, making it arguably the dominant multiplay outfit in the country.

This is likely to attract the attention of regulators, not just national but pan-European. The European Commission recently expressed resistance to consolidation and the concentration of power in the hands of Altice will also be a concern. And then there’s Bouygues group itself, which has made it clear this is not necessarily a welcome bid. This could be the start of a bidding war between Altice, Orange and Free.

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