The cable carrier Numericable Group, which is owned by Mr. Patrick Drahis Altice SA, made an official statement today revealing that it is in exclusive negotiations with Virgin Group Ltd and Carphone Warehouse Group Plc. The company is in talks over the acquisition of Virgin Mobile unit, which is controlled by holding company Omer Telecom Ltd. Carphone Warehouse, which is a shareholder of Omer Telecom, made a separate statement, explaining that Omer agreed to exclusive talks.
Carphone Warehouse said in its statement, which was cited by Reuters: “During the exclusivity period the parties will carry out the necessary consultations with employee work councils, with the transaction also being subject to the approval of the French Competition Authority.”
According to Numericable Groups statement, the offer made by the company for Virgin Mobile is estimated to 325 million euros (446 million dollars). Currently, Virgin Mobile is the largest “mobile virtual network operator” (MVNO) in the country. It provides its subscribers with mobile services using network infrastructure owned by other companies. It has more than 1.7 million users in its home market and has reported a 560 million-euro revenue for the 2012-13 fiscal year. According to regulator Arcep, the market share of Virgin Mobile amounted to 11.3% in the first quarter of the current year.
Earlier this year, Numericable Group, which is a subsidiary of Altice SA, won the bidding war with Bouygues SA over the acquisition of Vivendis SFR division. The acquisition, which is about to be completed soon will reduce the total number of mobile operators in France to four.
Recently, both phone executives and French politicians, including the countrys Economy Minister, have called for consolidation of the mobile market. As a result, Orange and Bouygues SA also revealed they are having exclusive negotiations and are discussing different options, which also include an eventual merger.
Numericable Group SA added 0.79% to trade at 38.49 euros per share by 10:32 GMT. According to the information published on the Financial Times, the 11 analysts offering 12 month price targets for Numericable Group SA have a median target of 32.00, with a high estimate of 48.00 and a low estimate of 24.25. The median estimate represents a -16.05% decrease from the last price of 38.12.