Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vivendi to Acquire Vodafone's 44% Stake in SFR

Vodafone will sell its entire 44% shareholding in SFR to Vivendi for EUR 7.75 billion in cash (£6.8 billion). Vivendi already held 56% of SFR. Vodafone will also receive a final dividend from SFR of EUR 200m (£176m) on completion of the transaction. In addition, Vodafone and SFR will enter into a Partner Market agreement which will maintain their commercial co-operation.

Société Française du Radiotéléphone (SFR) is a leading mobile operator in France with about 21.3 million subscribers. Its 3G network covers 92% of the population in France. SFR also operates fixed and fibre-to-the-home network and systems and serves 4.9 million residential broadband customers. Its fiber network spans 57,000km. Annual turnover was EUR 12.6 billion in 2010.

Vodafone's shareholding in SFR contributed £573m to Vodafone's adjusted operating profit in the financial year to 31 March 2010, and £284m in the six months to 30 September 2010.

Vodafone said £4bn (EUR 4.5 billion) of the net proceeds will be returned to shareholders by way of a share buy-back with the remainder of the proceeds used to reduce the Group's net debt. The share buy-back will be carried out after the completion of the existing programme which is expected to be completed in June 2011.

Commenting on the transaction, Vittorio Colao, Chief Executive of Vodafone said:

"Our Board remains committed to realising maximum value from our non-controlled assets. The sale of our stake in SFR, at an attractive multiple, represents a significant further step in the execution of this strategy. In addition, we have secured a valuable partnership agreement in France which will allow us to continue to deliver compelling cross-border services to both consumer and enterprise customers across the major markets of western Europe."

  • In December 2010, Nokia Siemens Networks announce that it had been chosen by SFR to build extra capacity in its existing 3G network. NSN will supply its LTE-ready Flexi Multiradio Base Station to support enhanced High Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) services. The contract also covers a range of software, network planning and optimization services. The companies have already hosted a live demonstration of Dual-cell HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) technology, which provides up to 42 Mbps download speeds, twice the current peak rate.

  • Also in December 2010, FR has established its first 100 Gbps backbone line between Paris and Bordeaux using equipment from Ciena and Cisco. SFR also confirmed its first 42 Mbps HSPA+ connections on the 3G mobile network at a trial site in Lyon. The company also noted that customers in Paris, Lyon and Marseille can already enjoy mobile broadband at up to 21 Mbps with 300 sites connected to its network in late 2010.

  • Also in December 2010, Bouygues Telecom and SFR agreed to share the costs of deploying FTTH infrastructure in dense municipalities. The companies will share the passive elements of the GPON network, but will compete at the services level. The accord is expected to cover some three million homes in 20 municipalities across France. SFR already has commercial FTTH services in several communities. Bouygues Telecom plans to launch its first FTTH in the second half of 2011.

  • SFR also has a FTTH sharing deal with Numericable.