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Vivendi hunts for the right telecom exit

12
Mar
2014

When Vivendis board meets on Friday to choose between two bids for its French telecom unit SFR, seller beware may be more appropriate. Both offers – from conglomerate Bouygues and local cable operator Numericable – leave Vivendi with a significant minority stake in the newly-created operator and continued exposure to the French telecom market, which has been in the throes of a price war since 2012. Complicating matters further, Bouygues bid has garnered support from an outspoken industry minister who says it better serves Frances interests, as well as the backing of the other telecom companies – leader Orange and low-cost challenger Iliad – which would benefit from taking the mobile market back down to three from four players. So will Vivendis board members – led by veteran chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou and his chosen successor, tycoon Vincent Bollore – be able to drown out the noise and decide what is best for the group and its shareholders?

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