Vodafone and Vivendi agree to simplify SFR ownership

15 Oct 2003

In a move which some analysts claim will edge Vodafone closer towards gaining control of French wireless operator SFR, Vodafone and Vivendi have made an agreement to simplify the cellco’s complex capital structure. The deal, which will leave Vodafone with a 43.9% stake, Vivendi with 55.8% and the remainder held by Cofira, removes a cascade of shareholdings put in place by Jean Marie Messier, the ousted Vivendi helmsman. Messier had hoped the labyrinth of SFR holding companies would guarantee French control. The new ownership structure could help the pair to bury the hatchet one year after Vivendi thwarted Vodafone’s bid for control of SFR. However the move has revived speculation that Vodafone might attempt to realise its ambitions in France.