Numericable, SFR agree MVNO deal; Iliad re-finances EUR1.4bn loan

6 Dec 2013

French telecoms company Iliad has completed the refinancing of an existing credit facility of EUR1.4 billion (USD1.9 billion) with twelve international banks. According to a press release, the initial syndicated credit was taken out in June 2010 to fund the network development programme for its mobile unit Free. The refinanced loan has an initial five-year maturity (2018) and can be extended until 2020. The participating banks are BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, Groupe Credit Mutuel-CIC, HSBC, ING Bank, Landesbank Hessen – Thurigen Girozentrale (Helaba), Natixis, Societe Generale, Sumitomo Mitsui, La Banque Postale, Barclays, and Bank of China, with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation acting as a mandated arranger of the deal. Iliad also revealed that it had benefitted from ‘favourable conditions’ on the loan, with an initial margin base that has been set to 0.70%.

In separate but related news, Paris-listed cable operator Numericable has agreed on the implementation of a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) partnership with telco SFR for the launch of a fourth-generation mobile carrier services. Further, in November 2013 Thierry Lemaitre, chief financial officer of Numericable, suggested that a merger with Vivendi’s SFR unit ‘makes sense’ and hinted that the newly-listed company might pursue the option again.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Numericable private equity owners Carlyle, Cinven and Altice initially entered into discussion with Vivendi over a multi-billion merger with Vivendi’s SFR telecoms business since October 2012, although talks between the involved parties stalled in February 2013. Subsequently, in September this year the cableco confirmed that it plans to list between 20% and 40% of its capital as part of an initial public offering (IPO) instead, and registered its ‘core documents’ with the Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF).

France, Altice France (SFR), Free Mobile (Iliad), Iliad (Free), SFR