Vivendi buys Telindus France for €95M

Belgacom has formally agreed to sell 100 per cent of its Telindus France unit to Vivendi for €95 million ($131 million), concluding a process that was announced by the two companies on February 13.

Belgacom said IT services company Telindus generated pro-forma revenues of €241 million and EBITDA of €11 million in 2013. Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by the French competition authorities. Belgacom also operates businesses under the Telindus name in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

When Belgacom and Vivendi-owned SFR first revealed that Vivendi had entered into exclusive negotiations with Belgacom, the move appeared to contradict the French group's strategy to divest its telecoms assets in order to focus on its media business.

At the time, spokespeople for Vivendi and SFR indicated that Vivendi was making the move in order to strengthen SFR's unified communications services for enterprise users ahead of the company's spinoff from Vivendi. SFR and Telindus France already have a long-standing partnership that in 2013 resulted in the joint development of a cloud-based unified communications offer.

Now that the situation with regard to SFR has moved on following bids from Numericable shareholder Altice and Bouygues, and Vivendi is holding exclusive talks with Altice for a period of three weeks until April 4, it is unclear what impact the acquisition of Telindus will have on the SFR discussions.

Spokespeople for Vivendi were unable to provide any comments as yet on the status of the Telindus brand in future, nor on the ongoing SFR discussions.

Meanwhile Vivendi, Altice and Bouygues have also come in for some criticism by French financial markets regulator AMF, which called on them to provide more transparency in their talks on SFR, and fully meet rules of disclosure.

In a statement issued on Friday, the AMF noted it has asked Altice, Numericable, Vivendi and Bouygues for additional information about the ongoing discussions on SFR, but has only received partial answers so far.

"Altice, Numericable, Bouygues and Vivendi as listed companies are obliged to provide the market with accurate, precise and sincere information," the AMF said. "Consequently, the AMF reminds these companies that they are solely responsible for their financial reporting and they are exposed to the risk of penalties for non-compliance with stock exchange regulations."

Brief recap on SFR timeline:
November 27 2013: The Vivendi supervisory board agreed unanimously to a demerger of SFR from Vivendi in order to focus on the group's media and content business.

January 8 2014: Altice announced plans to raise around €750 million through its initial public listing, preparing the way for further acquisitions.

January 21: Speculation intensifies that Vivendi is considering selling SFR to Altice and Numericable.

February 2: Bouygues Telecom and SFR agree on a mobile network-sharing deal.

February 3: Altice raises €1.3 billion from its IPO and lays out plans for further acquisitions.

February 13: Vivendi enters exclusive talks with Belgacom on buying Telindus France.

February 28: Bouygues is rumoured to have hired banks to advise it on a potential acquisition of SFR.

March 5: Vivendi sets a deadline for all potential SFR bidders to show their hand.

March 6: Vivendi confirms it has received bids for SFR from Bouygues and Altice/Numericable. The bid from Altice included around €11 billion in cash and granted Vivendi a 32 per cent stake in the new company.  Bouygues offered €10.5 billion in cash and 46 per cent of the new entity.

March 10: Bouygues said it had reached an accord to sell its mobile network and some frequencies to Iliad if its offer to merge Bouygues Telecom with SFR is approved.

March 12/13: Bouygues and Altice both sweeten their offers to €11.3 billion/43 per cent stake and €11.75 billion/32 per cent stake respectively.

March 14: Vivendi enters into exclusive negotiations with Altice on the acquisition of SFR for a period of three weeks.

March 21: Bouygues raises the cash part of its offer by €1.85 billion

For more:
- see this Belgacom statement
- see this AMF statement (translated by Google Translate)

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