France’s Financial Market Authority (Autorite des Marches Financiers, AMF) has opposed the public exchange offer filed by Netherlands-based Altice for all of the remaining shares issued by SFR Group and not currently owned by Altice (equivalent to 22% of all ownership). Altice has now terminated the offer, though it said that it reserved the right to file an appeal with the Court of Appeal of Paris against the AMF’s decision, which it believed was made in breach of applicable stock market regulations. The Altice group noted that the board of directors of SFR Group unanimously recommended the voluntary offer and that an independent expert concluded that the offer was fair to minority shareholders.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in September 2016 Altice offered to acquire the remaining 22% of SFR’s shares, on the basis of eight new Altice class A shares for five SFR Group shares. Altice said that the exchange offer – which was not subject to any ownership threshold – would ‘simplify the group’s ownership structure and enhance its organisational flexibility’.
SFR Group is 77.77%-owned by Altice Group (Altice SA, headed by French entrepreneur Patrick Drahi), with 0.14% of the shares owned by other members of the board. The remainder of the group capital is floated on the Paris Stock Exchange (Euronext).