Rumors: Xavier Niel’s mobile operator Free to merge with Vivendi’s SFR?
According to rumors reported in French daily Les Echos, Vivendi is looking for a partner for its mobile carrier SFR. The other party involved would be Free, the “bad boy”, disruptive low cost operator whose majority shareholder is Xavier Niel of Kima Ventures.
According to Les Echos, different sources confirm that Xavier Niel met with Jean-René Fourtou of Vivendi in July. SFR is already involved in merger talks with cable operator Numéricable, but analysts think a deal with Iliad (valued at 7,8 billion €) would be more beneficial to Vivendi.
“A merger with Iliad would be more credible and would make more sense – even though it would be harder to obtain permission for the deal from the competition authorities,” say the analysts.
For Free, the deal would mean that it could extricate itself from a deal with Orange to use its network, which currently costs the company 500 million € each year without giving it access to the Orange 4G network. A merger between Iliad and SFR would create an operator of roughly the same size as France Télécom.
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