SFR says ready for IPO, amid ongoing price war

French operator SFR said it is ready to sell its shares on the market, although Chairman Stephane Roussel also warned that the price war on France's mobile market is far from over.

"We are ready for an IPO," Roussel said during a conference organised by French daily Les Echos, according to Bloomberg. "It will be for Vivendi to decide, but I do think we have an equity story to tell. Given our structure and forecasts, we can do an IPO."

Vivendi, which owns SFR and plans to refocus its business on media and away from telecoms, has previously said an initial public offering is an option for SFR, although it also added that the operator's business needed to be strengthened first. Vivendi recently appointed Jean-Yves Charlier as the CEO of SFR, thereby separating the roles of CEO and chairman.

Like rivals Orange France and Bouygues Telecom, SFR has been embroiled in a fierce battle for customers following the arrival of Iliad's Free Mobile's in the French market in January 2012. Roussel warned that the price war is far from over, and told Les Echos it will take some time for new LTE subscriptions to have a positive impact on margins.

"I fear that we have not yet quite reached the bottom," he said, referring to the price of low-cost plans in France.

He added that average revenue per LTE customer will be €10 per month higher than for 3G customers. "But I do not know when, in 2014 or 2015," he told Les Echos.

Vivendi also owns telecoms assets in Morocco and Brazil and has been seeking ways to sell these companies. It is currently assessing bids from Etisalat and Ooredoo of Qatar for its 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom.

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

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