Drahi’s Numericable Agrees to Acquire Virgin Mobile in France

Billionaire Patrick Drahi
Patrick Drahi is expanding his grip on cable and mobile companies as the European telecommunication industry consolidates to reduce costs and revive earnings. Photographer: Ivan Guilbert/Bloomberg

Numericable Group, the cable carrier that agreed in April to the $23 billion acquisition of mobile operator SFR, agreed to buy Virgin Mobile in France from Virgin Group Ltd. and Carphone Warehouse Group Plc.

The agreement was reached after negotiations with employee representatives and requires approval from administrative authorities, Altice SA, the investment company of billionaire Patrick Drahi that owns Numericable, said in a statement today. Numericable made an offer last month for Virgin Mobile’s French business valuing it at 325 million euros ($444 million) including debt.

Drahi is expanding his grip on cable and mobile companies as the European telecommunication industry consolidates to reduce costs and revive earnings. Luxembourg-based Altice raised about $1.2 billion last week selling new shares to help fund an increase of its stake in Numericable and cut debt.

Virgin Mobile, with 1.7 million customers, is France’s largest mobile virtual-network operator, selling wireless packages without deploying its own network in full. MVNOs had an 11.3 percent share of the French mobile market in the first quarter this year, according to regulator Arcep. Virgin Mobile is controlled by holding company Omer Telecom Ltd.