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Altice Said to Be in Talks With Oni Shareholders to Buy Company

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Altice, an investment company with a stake in French cable operator Numericable, is in talks with Oni Communications shareholders to buy the telecommunications company, two people familiar with the matter said.

Altice is bidding less than 100 million euros ($129 million) for Oni, including debt, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. The Riverside Company, which owns 60.9 percent of Oni, and Gestmin SGPS SA, which has about a third, are discussing the offer with Luxembourg-based Altice, the people said.

“Oni shareholders have received many demonstrations of interest in the company,” Oni said in an e-mailed statement yesterday from press representatives at Lift Consulting. “Since there is no change to the current situation of the company, we continue to focus fully on the development of our strategy.”

Oni, based in Lisbon, is one of the smallest telecommunications players in Portugal and competes against Portugal Telecom SGPS SA, Zon Multimedia SGPS SA, Sonaecom SGPS SA and Vodafone Group Plc’s unit in the country. It provides voice, data and Internet services to companies and the Portuguese government, including the Finance Ministry, according to its website.

Officials at Altice’s Luxembourg office weren’t immediately available and Monica Chase, an investor relations director at The Riverside Company, and Gestmin Chairman Manuel Champalimaud didn’t immediately return calls to their offices for comment.

Altice owns cable operator Cabovisao-Televisao Por Cabo SA in Portugal and may be interested in merging Oni with its cable unit, one of the people said. Altice bought Cabovisao last year for 45 million euros from Cogeco Cable Inc., which paid 465 million euros for the Portuguese company in 2006.

The people declined to provide details on Altice’s offer for Oni. Disagreements between Oni’s two biggest shareholders were delaying a possible deal with Altice, Portuguese news agency Lusa said May 17, citing unidentified sources.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henrique Almeida in Lisbon at halmeida5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net

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