Vivendi mulls options: chase SFR, or enter emerging markets

Having gained US$5.8 billion from the sale of its stake in NBC Universal, Vivendi is reported to be looking to use this war chest to acquire Vodafone's 44 per cent holding in SFR. If unsuccessful, then the company's CEO, Jean-Bernard Levy, has said it would look to expand Vivendi's mobile presence in emerging markets.

Levy has previously hinted that Vivendi would be interested in acquiring total ownership of SFR, a desire given fresh impetus earlier this year after Vodafone was said to be ‘psychologically' prepared to sell its stake in the French operator following board pressure to offload certain non-core assets to focus on acquisitions in emerging markets.

However, Vodafone's stake in SFR is currently estimated to be worth around US$9.2 billion on the open market, albeit that Vivendi has a right of first refusal and is thought unlikely to want to pay above US$8.1 billion.

"We have two possible options," said Levy. "One is to buy out 100 per cent of SFR, the second is to increase Vivendi's presence even more in those parts of the world that are growing quickly."

In November 2009, the company took control of GVT in Brazil, offering US$4.18 billion for the Brazilian phone operator, raising its initial US$3 billion bid to fight off a challenge from Spain's Telefonica.

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