SFR still a priority of sorts for Vodafone

4 Dec 2003

Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin yesterday told reporters at a Foreign Press Association meeting that his company had not completely ruled out the possibility of launching a takeover bid for Vivendi Universal in order to get its hands on France’s second-largest mobile operator SFR. Vodafone and Vivendi currently share ownership of SFR, which has almost 14 million subscribers, equal to around 35% of the French mobile market. Last year Vodafone tried to gain management control of the operator by acquiring the stakes in SFR held by SBC Communications and BT. However, its bid was unsuccessful after Vivendi beat it to the BT stake. Whilst talk of Vodafone buying Vivendi outright remains highly speculative at this stage due to the mass of non-telecoms assets in the latter’s portfolio, not least its stake in French pay-TV broadcaster Canal Plus, it is understood that Vodafone has already sounded out prospective buyers for the shareholdings deemed ‘non-core’.

France, SFR, Vodafone Group