June 25, 2015 / 5:42 PM / 4 years ago

Altice defends 10 billion euro Bouygues Telecom bid

PARIS (Reuters) - European telecoms group Altice ATCE.AS defended its bid for Bouygues Telecom and confirmed it valued France’s no.3 mobile operator at “a minimum of 10 billion euros” ($11.2 billion).

A Bouygues Telecom company logo is seen on the facade of the Sequana tower, the company's headquarters, in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, near Paris, as the Eiffel Tower appears in the background, April 6, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

In a statement after markets closed on Thursday, Altice said it had provided employment guarantees to the French government and to the Bouygues (BOUY.PA) group, which rejected the offer for its telecoms unit earlier this week.

Altice said it took note of the board’s unanimous decision and regretted that neither the company nor its advisers had sought any details from Altice about the offer.

“The offer remains on the table,” a company official said.

Altice is controlled by billionaire Patrick Drahi, whose Numericable cable company beat Bouygues last year to buy Vivendi’s (VIV.PA) SFR, the second-biggest French mobile firm.

Setting out details for the first time, Altice said the offer included a cash payment of 9 billion euros and a choice of either 1 billion euros in cash three years after completion or 1 billion euros in Numericable-SFR shares.

The share transaction would be structured in a way to guarantee a minimum price equivalent to 1 billion euros.

Altice also said it had promised the government that it would increase capital expenditure and participate fully in an auction of 700 megahertz frequencies.

President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government had expressed concerns over the offer, saying it could be bad for jobs, consumers and investment.

It was also worried over the upcoming auction of radio spectrum for 4G mobile broadband networks from which the state wants to raise 2.5 billion euros.

Addressing regulatory risks, Altice said it had entered into exclusive negotiations with low-cost mobile operator Iliad (ILD.PA) to transfer certain assets.

In its unanimous rejection of the offer on Tuesday, the board of Bouygues cited execution risks and expressed confidence that the business could prosper on its own.

Shares in Bouygues closed on Thursday up 1.9 percent at 35.16 euros after a news report fueled hopes the French conglomerate remained open to a new offer.

Chief Executive Martin Bouygues told a French newspaper on Wednesday, however, that “Bouygues Telecom is not for sale”.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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