Bouygues claimed the €10 billion offer from SFR-Numericable for its mobile business carried “significant execution risk”, as it also played the political card.
The board of Bouygues unanimously rejected the offer, citing likely objections by French regulators. In addition, SFR-Numericable has not factored in the imminent launch of the 700MHz auction and its consequences on the deal, the statement added.
Bouygues played up the risks to future employment from the offer, a move calculated to gain political support. The board “paid great attention to the consequences of market consolidation on employment as well as the social risk inherent in such an operation”. Government ministers queued up yesterday to oppose SFR-Numericable’s bid, citing, among other reasons, risk to jobs.
Bouygues Telecom is “well positioned” to take advantage of future growth in France’s telecoms market, its statement said. It has a strong portfolio of spectrum and a 4G network. The future is positive, both in the mobile and fixed markets, it argued.
In fact, Bouygues Telecom can return to an Ebitda margin of at least 25 per cent by 2017 (the same level as 2011). And this margin could improve in the longer term.
The rosy outlook is at odds with the typical portrayal of Bouygues Telecom as struggling in the face of a vicious price war unleashed by the entry of low-price rival Iliad. A year ago, Bouygues Telecom cut 15 per cent of its workforce.
The statement made no direct mention of the SFR-Numericable offer undervaluing Bouygues Telecom. In fact, the bidders were criticised by politicians yesterday for overbidding, with possible negative consequence for future investment for jobs and investment.