French tele­coms stocks soar amid takeover talk

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Shares in lead­ing French tele­coms op­er­a­tors soared Mon­day, as one of the top play­ers of­fi­cially launched a takeover bid for a ri­val that would pro­foundly shake the sec­tor.

The Altice group, owned by ac­qui­si­tion-hun­gry Franco-Is­raeli ty­coon Pa­trick Drahi, an­nounced an of­fer for Bouygues Tele­com thought to be around 10 bil­lion eu­ros (US$11.3 bil­lion).

Bouygues Tele­com con­firmed it had re­ceived the “un­so­licited” of­fer and said it would hold a meet­ing of its board on Tues­day to dis­cuss the takeover bid.

“There is no ne­go­ti­a­tion un­der­way,” stressed Bouygues.

Nei­ther com­pany dis­closed the ac­tual value of the takeover of­fer.

But traders were ju­bi­lant at the prospect of con­sol­i­da­tion in the French tele­coms mar­ket and rushed to buy stock in both com­pa­nies.

At the open­ing bell, Numer­i­ca­ble-SFR, a sub­sidiary of the par­ent group Altice, was up more than 13 per­cent while Bouygues was up more than 14 per­cent.

Another player, Iliad — which owns op­er­a­tor Free — was also up by more than 10 per­cent.

The main French stock in­dex, the CAC- 40, was also in the black, up nearly three per­cent on op­ti­mism a deal could be found over Greece.

Altice said in its state­ment that it would likely re­sell some of the as­sets to Iliad/Free if the deal went ahead.

Ac­cord­ing to the Jour­nal de Dimanche weekly, which broke news of the pos­si­ble tie-up on Sun­day, Free would get some of Bouygues’s mo­bile fre­quency, an­ten­nas and shops, while some of its em­ploy­ees may end up at mar­ket leader Or­ange.

How­ever, the French gov­ern­ment im­me­di­ately came out against the deal, with Econ­omy Min­is­ter Em­manuel Macron say­ing: “Con­sol­i­da­tion is cur­rently un­de­sir­able for the sec­tor.”

“Now is not the time for op­por­tunis­tic tie-ups which may be of in­ter­est to some peo­ple but which are not in the public in­ter­est,” Macron told AFP.

“Jobs, in­vest­ment and bet­ter cus­tomer ser­vice are the pri­or­ity,” added Macron, who noted that re­cent cases in Europe had shown tele­coms merg­ers to have a “neg­a­tive” im­pact.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.