PARIS (Reuters) - French conglomerate Bouygues (BOUY.PA) turned up the heat in its battle for control of Vivendi’s (VIV.PA) telecom unit SFR on Tuesday by extending its offer to April 25 from April 8 and presenting a 500 million euro ($689 million) break-up fee.
Bouygues, which is battling rival bidder Numericable NUME.PA for the number-two French telecoms provider, said the break-up fee was payable should regulatory authorities refuse to approve its takeover - a key question mark over its takeover proposal which would cut the number of France’s mobile operators to three from four.
Sources told Reuters about the inclusion of the break-up fee on March 26.
Official confirmation of the fee’s existence follows a call on Friday from markets watchdog AMF for more transparency from all parties.
So far, Vivendi has preferred the offer from Numericable. A period of exclusive talks between Vivendi and Numericable is due to end on April 4.
But under a new proposal made during the exclusive talks period on March 20, Bouygues said it would pay Vivendi an extra 1.85 billion euros in cash, taking the cash element of its offer to 13.15 billion euros, but leaving Vivendi with just 21.5 percent of a separately listed Bouygues Telecom-SFR entity, instead of 43 percent under its previous proposal.
Cable group Numericable’s bid includes 11.75 billion euros in cash and a 32 percent equity stake in a new merged company to be formed through the acquisition.
Numericable, controlled by Altice ATCE.AS, the holding company of Numericable’s biggest shareholder Patrick Drahi, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Vivendi spokesman declined to comment. ($1 = 0.7256 Euros)
Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva, Cyril Altmeyer and Andrew Callus; Editing by Leigh Thomas