Bouygues beaten to SFR but interesting competition implications remain

On 10 April, head of antitrust for the EU Joaquin Almunia stated that any review of the successful purchase of Vivendi’s French telecom subsidiary by Numericable will remain with the French Competition Authority.

This is another interesting twist in a long and protracted bidding process involving rival bidders and political involvement in the telecoms sector. It also raises questions about the consistency of the review process of telecoms mergers as well as the commission’s approach to the sector as a whole, which has seen increased activity in recent months that looks set to continue.

The last few weeks has seen a bidding war for Vivendi’s French telecom subsidiary SFR, with Bouygues, the third-largest French mobile provider, losing out to Numericable, a Luxembourg-based cable provider with most activities in France, whose largest shareholder is Altice, the global operation built by French entrepreneur Patrick Drahi…

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