As expected, Altice’s proposed €17 billion takeover of mobile operator SFR received a green light from France’s competition authority — so long as certain conditions are met.
They primarily relate to the fixed network of Numericable, a subsidiary of French firm Altice, which will impact its quadplay strategy (although there are conditions attached to the entity’s mobile operations as well).
Numericable, France’s largest cable operator, must open up its network to rivals. The commitment is a temporary one, while competitors build out their own fibre networks, an area where Numericable is particularly strong. The cable operator must make two separate offers — one for MVNOs and a second for network-based rivals.
In addition, Numericable must sell the copper network of its Completel business, as well as make a wholesale offer available on the fibre networks of Completel and SFR.
On the mobile side, the new entity must divest the wireless business and retail stores of Outremer Telecom, which was acquired by Altice a year ago. Outremer Telecom has a dominant share of the mobile market in the Indian ocean islands of Reunion and Mayotte following the SFR deal.
Finally, Altice has committed not to share strategic information with Vivendi on the markets in which they are competitors. Vivendi is the current owner of SFR and will become a shareholder in the merged entity once the mobile operator is sold.
This authorisation enables Altice to call a shareholders’ meeting to be held on 27 November to approve, among other matters, the contribution of a portion of Vivendi’s shares of SFR to Numericable in exchange for new ordinary shares of Numericable Group representing 20 per cent of Numericable’s share capital.
It hopes to complete the acquisition before the end of the year.
Compliance to the terms of the regulatory settlement will be monitored by an independent trustee appointed by the competition authority.
Meanwhile Numericable announced a third-quarter loss relating to its takeover of SFR. Its net loss of €94 million ($120 million) in the three months to end September was in contrast to a year earlier profit of €12.8 million. Sales increased by four per cent to €332 million.