Vivendi unit in talks with cable firm Numericable over tie-up

City A.M. Reporter
FRENCH mobile phone operator SFR, a unit of Vivendi, is in talks with unlisted cable company Numericable over a possible tie-up, the country’s daily Le Figaro reported over the weekend.

Le Figaro did not cite its sources but said in an online report that the two companies had been in “very serious” discussions for around two weeks.

It said Vivendi had hired BNP Paribas and Goldman Sachs to work on a possible deal, while Numericable was being advised by Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan.

Both Vivendi and Numericable declined to comment, but a source close to the matter said there was pressure to find solutions to the current competition in the market.

“We are in a very turbulent market. Everybody is talking to everybody and trying to find solutions,” the source said.

Vivendi has been reviewing its strategy and business portfolio as it seeks to reverse a deep slump in its share price over the last few years. It is also working to slash annual operating costs at SFR. Its former cash cow, SFR has been hammered by a price war started when rival Iliad undercut it with an ultra-low-cost offer, forcing it to spend money to try and keep clients.