The latest big deal in the phone world has Britain’s Vodafone selling its 44 percent stake in France’s SFR to the French communications and entertainment group Vivendi.
That gives Vivendi full control of France’s second-biggest telecoms operator.
Two weeks ago Deutsche Telekom sold its US operation and Vodafone itself has just agreed to buy out its Indian partner for a hefty price.
There are 65 million people in France, but the phone companies claim to have 64.4 million mobile phone customers. Former state monopoly Orange has 43 percent of those, SFR has just over a third.
Vodafone will receive 7.95 billion euros in cash and 4.5 billion will be returned to shareholders, by way of a buy-back of shares. The rest of will go to reducing the group’s debt.
The deal creates a new-look Vivendi with higher cash flows. It will also have more exposure to telecoms and its mature home market of France, which is Europe’s third-biggest telecom market in terms of revenue.
Vivendi also signalled that the SFR buyout would lead to an increase in its dividend.