French Industry minister Arnaud Montebourg believes that Vivendi (VIVHY, VIVEF) prefers Numericable's bid for its SFR mobile unit over an offer from conglomerate Bouygues (BOUYY).
However, there are concerns about a potential Numericable victory, Montebourg says, including the small size of the company relative to SFR, its debt, and its offshore ownership structure. Numericable's ulitmate owner, billionaire Patrick Drahi, controls the company via Luxembourg-based Altice.
Montebourg prefers the Bouygues offer, as the company has pledged not to cut jobs.
Vivendi's board was due to meet today to discuss the rival offers, which both value SFR at over $20B.
French conglomerate Bouygues (BOUYY) has agreed to sell part of its network and wireless spectrum to smaller French competitor Iliad for up to €1.8B ($2.5B) if Bouygues succeeds in its efforts to merge its mobile phone unit with Vivendi (VIVHY, VIVEF) subsidiary SFR.
The asset sale would be part of Bouygues' attempts to assuage antitrust concerns in France about the cellular deal.
Bouygues faces competition for SFR from Amsterdam-listed Altice, which doesn't face the same antitrust hurdles as Bouygues.
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