Luxembourg-based investment fund Altice Group would be interested in taking over Bouygues Telecom if its parent company agrees to sell the unit, the Wall Street Journal reports. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference in Barcelona, Altice’s chief executive officer Dexter Goei was cited as saying: ’Right now, we are focused on integrating SFR, but if we get a phone call from Bouygues on Friday, then why not? There is a big synergy potential there.’ In response to a question about potential consolidation in the market, Goei noted: ‘It would surprise me if, in 2015, there [is not] some effort to get this done’. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Bouygues reportedly said that although the telecoms unit has ‘a viable stand-alone strategy,’ the group is ‘attentive to the French telecom evolution and to any potential opportunities.’
TeleGeography notes that French media group Vivendi received two offers for its telecoms arm SFR – from Altice and Bouygues – and agreed to sell the unit to the Luxembourg-based firm in April 2014. Just a month later Altice secured the acquisition of mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile France, from Omea Telecom. The group is currently in the process of merging its subsidiary Numericable with SFR, following the deal’s conditional regulatory approval. Since the SFR deal, French rivals Orange, Iliad (Free) and Bouygues Telecom have all expressed their willingness for further tie-ups in a bid to ease competition, although Iliad’s informal June 2014 bid of EUR4 billion (USD5.4 billion) to acquire Bouygues Telecom was reportedly deemed insufficient by parent Bouygues Group.