After coming out on top in the negotiations for SFR, Numericable announced Friday that it is also entering into exclusive negotiations to purchase Virgin Mobile. According to Carphone Warehouse Group, 46% owners of Virgin Mobile’s France holding company Omer Telecom, the transaction would be valued at around 325 million euros.
Carphone Warehouse Group, looks to be eager to push the deal through due to its impending all-share merger deal with electronics retailer Dixons Retail. According to the NYT, the new, merged retailer Dixons Carphone is seeking to capitalize on an environment in which consumers and their electronic devices are increasingly interconnected. With a 3k outlets across a dozen European countries, including France, the combined retailer would be a force in the electronics and, of course, the mobile sectors as well.
The Numericale-Virigin Mobile news comes at the same time as the rumors of a potential Bouygues purchase by Orange, which France’s arguably most ‘active’ minister Arnaud Montebourg stated last week is currently under discussion between the two mobile giants. However, after Montebourg publicly raised the issue, his boss Prime Minister Valls attempted to play down the reported talks qualifying them as ‘unqualified rumors’. Montebourg has been vocal about his opinion that France needs to go back to 3 operators from the current 4 because France’s telco sector is ‘in ruins’ and that France “can’t continue today with unbridled competition and with the lowest prices in the world.”
We’ll see if his wish eventually becomes a reality, but if, in fact, there is a real possibility of an Orange-Bouygues tie-up, it will be interesting to see how France’s anti-competition watchdog might weigh in.