Gallic cable deal nearer

Several potential queue for platform

PARIS — Canal Plus Group and France Telecom have chosen finalists in the bidding for their combined cable assets, which could fetch a price of up to E700 million ($826 million).

The potential buyers, who were contacted Tuesday night by the two companies, include Apax Partners with Soros Private Equity, Carlyle and Providence, and Cinven with industrial cable group Altice, according to a French press report.

In March, less than a week after John Malone’s UnitedGlobalCom announced it would buy Noos, France’s biggest cable network, Canal Plus and France Telecom announced a memorandum of understanding to combine their Gallic cable interests in an entity with 1.7 million subscribers.

All the bids are said to exceed the $590 million starting price for the cable assets.

Bids will not be concrete until the interested buyers have seen the books of France Telecom Cable and NC Numericable, a subsid of Canal Plus.

The audits are expected to take place immediately, and the sale could be sewn up this summer.