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Altice makes bid for Bouygues Telecom

European cable company Altice has made an offer for Bouygues Telecom, the third-largest mobile provider in France, through its subsidiary Numericable SFR, it said23 Jun 2015

Sources told the Financial Times that Numericable-SFR had offered more than €10 billion in cash for Bouygues Telecom.

Bouygues confirmed that it has received an "unsolicited" offer from Altice, and said that its board of directors will meet on Tuesday to review it. No negotiations are in progress, Bouygues said.

The French government is concerned about the deal, which would reduce the number of competitors in the market from four to three. "Now is not the time for opportunistic tie-ups which may be of interest to some people but which are not in the public interest," economy minister Emmanuel Macron told AFP.

Numericable won approval last year to buy Vivendi, although France's competition authority rules that it would have to divest certain assets and temporarily make its cable network available to competitors “to give them time to develop their own high-speed broadband networks”.

European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has repeatedly warned that telecom operator mergers are likely to damage competition in the European market.

"There is ample evidence that excessive consolidation may lead not only to less competition and more expensive bills for consumers, but that it also reduces the incentives in national markets to innovate," Vestager said last week.