More ownership changes in the French mobile market look on the cards as SFR and Bouygues are each reportedly eyeing up a bid for a stake in struggling Virgin Mobile France.
Carphone Warehouse, according to Les Echos, wants to sell its 46 per cent stake in the MVNO by the summer.
Unnamed sources say the UK retailer could reel in €150 million if a deal is struck with another MVNO, but up to €300 million if a mobile network operator swoops in with a bid.
Although Virgin Mobile France started out as an MVNO over Orange’s network, it struck a five-year deal with SFR in 2011 to become a ‘full MVNO’ (enabling it to install its own equipment on masts and gain more control over its customer base).
Les Echos speculates that SFR, which already accounts for around 70 per cent of Virgin’s 1.7 million customers, could be attracted by a deal to secure the MVNO’s customer database.
SFR, whose parent company Vivendi agreed its sale to Altice – owner of Numericable, France’s largest cable operator – is France’s second-largest mobile operator behind Orange.
Orange, say sources, is apparently not interested in making a bid on the grounds that MVNO customers are “too fickle”.
Aside from the stake held by Carphone Warehouse, Virgin Mobile France is owned 46 per cent by Virgin Group and 8 per cent by management.