Patrick Drahi’s Altice, which already owns French telco Numericable-SFR, has offered $11.3 billion (10 billion Euros) in an effort to acquire another French player, Bouygues Telecom.
The bid, which Bouygues called “unsolicited” in a public statement, was confirmed by Altice. Bouygues, the majority shareholder of France’s top commercial network group TF1, also said its board would meet on Tuesday to discuss the offer.
Altice acquired France’s second telco shingle SFR from Vivendi last year and merged it with Numericable to form Numericable-SFR.
Altice’s offer to buy Bouygues underscores the company’s ambition to consolidate France’s telco sector. A merger of Numericable-SFR and Bouygues would allow the group to surpass France’s current market leader, Orange, in terms of subscribers, according to Telecompaper. Another French telco is Iliad’s low-cost operator Free, which is said to have a 15% share of French customers.
Atlice also owns two major French press outlets, L’Express and Libération, as well as Virgin Mobile and Portugal Telecom.
Update: Iliad has announced it was in exclusive negotiations with Numericable-SFR to buy assets in the bid to acquire Bouygues.
Local reports have indicated that the French government is reluctant to see this market consolidation, fearing layoffs and a negative impact on consumer services. Prime Minister Manuel Valls has declared that Numericable-SFR would have to fulfill multiple requirements to snatch up Bouygues. Meanwhile, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said that consolidation of the sector wasn’t recommended.