Bouygues plays employment card in battle for SFR

Altice may have been granted a three-week exclusivity period to discuss its take-over offer for SFR, but Bouygues is clearly not giving up and continues to put pressure on Vivendi to consider its offer.

The French construction and telecoms group's latest tactic is to reinforce its message on employment, which is a sensitive topic in France right now due to spiralling jobless figures. According to Les Echos, Bouygues has sent a letter of commitment to SFR and parent Vivendi that says the group would maintain employment for 36 months from the signing of a deal to buy SFR. Altice is also understood to have made the same commitment, which would take effect from the end of the exclusivity period on April 4.

Apparently SFR's unions have also drafted a memorandum of understanding on employment that they want any future buyer to sign, although reports say neither Bouygues nor Altice have signed this document.

While Vivendi;s board is unable to discuss anything officially with Bouygues right now due to the conditions of the exclusivity period, reports say the company has promised Bouygues it will consider its revised offer. Indeed, according to Le Figaro, a special sub-committee of Vivendi's board that previously evaluated the original two offers met again on Thursday to discuss the latest Bouygues bid.

Bouygues last week raised the cash part of its offer by €1.85 billion ($2.55 billion) to €13.15 billion, while Vivendi's stake in the merged entity combining Bouygues Telecom and SFR would be 21.5 per cent

The Altice/Numericable offer comprises an €11.75 billion payment to Vivendi and a 32 per cent share in the equity of the combined listed entity. Altice said €3.4 billion would be financed through a capital increase and €8.35 billion through debt.

Vivendi refused to comment on the latest developments, merely reiterating that the supervisory board of Vivendi decided on March 14 to enter into exclusive negotiations with Altice for a period of three weeks.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Les Echos article (translated by Google Translate)
- see this Le Figaro article (translated by Google Translate)

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