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Fury over Bouygues bids to buy SFR

Vivendi board member launches scathing attack on Bouygues Telecom over "pressure" during SFR sale

16 April 2014

THE CHAIRMAN of the committee that oversaw the sale of Vivendi's telecoms arm SFR to Numericable has launched a scathing attack on rival bidder Bouygues and the French government.

Henri Lachmann, who headed the advisory committee during the sale and is a vice president of Vivendi, told Le Parisien that the company had faced “dramatic and shocking pressures” during the sale.

The board of Vivendi approved the sale of SFR to Numericable a fortnight ago, but not before Bouygues had made a number of offers, and then-industry minister Arnaud Montebourg
had publicly voiced his opinions.

Mr Lachmann said that Mr Montebourg, who is now the economy minister in Manuel Valls' cabinet, did not know the full story when he made his preference known.

And Mr Lachmann remains convinced that a tie-up between SFR and Bouygues would have meant the loss of up to 6,000 jobs in France, despite assurances to the contrary.

Consumer watchdog UFC-Qui Choisir had also issued a warning over a possible merger between SFR and Bouygues.

In the end, however, the decision to sell SFR to Numericable was easy. “He ticked all the boxes,” Mr Lachmann said of Numericable’s boss Patrick Drahi.

He added: “It's been three years since he first knocked at the door of Vivendi, each time with an offer he had to revise.

“He wanted SFR and he had a genuine industrial project development in mind, unlike Bouygues, who sought a consolidation of the situation.”

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