Telecommunications billionaire Patrick Drahi 10 days ago offered more than 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion) to buy Bouygues Telecom, French Sunday newspaper Journal du Dimanche reported, without saying where it got the information.
A spokesman at Bouygues Telecommunications, a unit of Bouygues SA, declined to comment. Drahi’s Luxembourg-based holding commpany Altice SA didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment. Talks are ongoing and the Bouygues board will meet Tuesday to make a decision, the paper said.
Drahi is continuing to seek out European assets to grow his telecommunications and cable empire that already stretches from France, Israel and Portugal to the Caribbean. The offer would be paid in cash, with a loan from BNP Paribas, according to the report.
To avoid difficulties with competition regulators, Drahi has an agreement with rival Xavier Niel, who would take over some of the stores and towers controlled by Bouygues. He already had examined the financial and regulatory obstacles to purchasing Bouygues Telecom, France’s third-largest wireless provider, Bloomberg reported in February.
French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, asked about the report, objected to consolidation in the industry. “The time isn’t right,” he told Agence France Presse. “Consolidation isn’t advisable for the sector. Employment, investment and giving customers the best possible service should be the priority.”
Martin Bouygues, CEO of Bouygues, wrote a letter to Investir magazine last month saying he had decided against selling its mobile phone business.