Vivendi aims to own all of Neuf by 2009

Vivendi's telecoms arm SFR aims to complete the offer for the entire share capital of alternative operator Neuf Cegetel by the end of 2008, said the unit’s chief executive Frank Esser.

SFR, which already owns 40.5 per cent of Neuf, announced a draft deal to acquire the entire 19.5 per cent stake held by French diversified group Louis Dreyfus, paying E34.5 per share. In a second phase, SFR will launch a buyout offer for the remaining shares at E36.5 per share.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Esser said the deal, which will give SFR a 45,000 km national ADSL network boasting over 3 million clients, creates ‘a real competitor’ for market leader France Telecom But he declined to say if he is concerned that the agreement could be blocked by national or EU regulators critical of a group combining a leading content producer, pay TV operator Canal Plus, with a distribution network such as Neuf.

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