The bidding war for SFR, France's second-largest mobile operator,
has been raging for over a month. It will reshape the competitive
landscape of Europe's third-biggest telecoms market after two years
of price war sparked by the arrival of low-cost upstart Iliad's Free
Vivendi has already begun exclusive talks with Numericable that are
due to last until April 4, but Bouygues hit back last week with an
improved offer for SFR. Sources familiar with the talks told Reuters
that Vivendi would examine this new offer while respecting the
Although SFR is not listed on the Paris stock exchange, its parent
Vivendi and the bidding companies are listed, which obliges them to
provide the market with "exact, precise and sincere" information,
AMF said in a statement on Friday.
It reminded the parties they are liable to sanctions if they do not
comply with market regulation. AMF has the power to investigate
companies and fine them, but its probes are generally very lengthy
and the penalties it can hand out are often criticized as too small
to be dissuasive.
The head of AMF told Le Figaro newspaper the regulator had asked all
four companies for details on the financial compensations planned in
the event that their takeover talks on SFR failed, as well as on the
conditions in which Vivendi could exit the capital of the future
"I understand that for the various players, giving information or
not is part of a strategy. But we want to ensure that the market has
full and precise information," AMF chief Gerard Rameix said in an
interview on Le Figaro's website.
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A spokesman for Bouygues, whose bid is backed by France's state fund
CDC and has the outright support of firebrand Industry Minister
Arnaud Montebourg, said the company was surprised by the AMF's
Bouygues has commented on the talks several times — even calling
journalists directly — and has repeatedly complained that
Altice-Numericable are not showing their cards in the same way.
"Bouygues has regularly communicated on the content of its offers,
in contrast with Altice-Numericable," the spokesman said.
A spokesman for Altice had no immediate comment to either AMF's
comments or those of Bouygues.
A spokesman for Vivendi could not immediately be reached for
(Reporting by Natalie Huet; additional reporting by Noelle Mennella;
editing by Alexandria Sage and Sophie Walker)
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