Vivendi to Resume SFR Work Tomorrow After Bouygues Boosts Offer

Vivendi SA will resume discussions over a sale of its SFR phone unit tomorrow after Bouygues SA sweetened its offer.

Vivendi’s supervisory board adjourned its meeting today, according to a spokesman for the Paris-based company. Vivendi has until today to hold exclusive talks with its preferred bidder, Altice SA.

Bouygues, locked in a monthlong bidding war with Altice to acquire France’s second-largest phone company, today improved its offer to bring its cash component to 15 billion euros ($20.6 billion), topping a cash bid from cable tycoon Patrick Drahi’s Altice by 3.25 billion euros.

Vivendi would receive 10 percent of the company to be created from a merger of SFR with Bouygues Telecom. Altice, proposing to combine its Numericable Group with SFR, offered Vivendi a 32 percent stake in an enlarged entity.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Drahi amended his bid.

Drahi, the 50-year-old Altice chairman who made his fortune amassing cable assets, has tried for years to take over SFR. His most recent proposal values the combined entity at 20 billion euros including debt, according to Altice.

Bouygues said its improved bid, excluding potential cost savings and additional revenue, is valued at 16 billion euros, which could rise to as much as 16.5 billion euros including a so-called earn-out clause. Bouygues would hold 51 percent of the new carrier, while a group of public and private investors would own 39 percent.

The separation of SFR started last year as a spinoff plan, part of Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou’s promise to split Vivendi into two companies focused on telecommunications and media, respectively. Vivendi also owns Universal Music Group, pay-TV company Canal+ and Brazilian broadband provider GVT.

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