French alternative telecoms operator Iliad Group, which owns domestic ISP Free, has confirmed it has offered to buy Club Internet France from Deutsche Telekom, reports AFX news. It will face competition from the likes of neuf Cegetel and cable operator Noos-Numericable, which have already expressed an interest in bidding, while Telecom Italia (Alice) is also seen as a possible candidate. Club Internet France has around 600,000 ADSL subscribers and 400,000 dial-up users and is valued at EUR340 million (USD449 million). Iliad is looking to add more than 2.8 million subscribers to its high speed internet service by the end of 2007, while continuing to increase the share of its ‘unbundled’ subscribers from 76% at end-2006 to 80%.
In a separate story, Iliad has said it will not participate in the forthcoming auction of a fourth 3G mobile licence unless the rules of the government tender are amended. Iliad chief executive Michael Boukobza said his company would not bid for the fourth concession unless the government lowers the price and allows the fee to be paid in instalments. Boukobza added that Iliad would most likely not take part if it failed to find an industrial partner to share the costs or the venture. The licence fee itself is expected to be EUR619 million, while the estimated network rollout costs (EUR1.5 billion) would, says Iliad, be too high to shoulder on its own.