Vodafone eyes Vivendi stakes

Beaucoup speculation over price and timing

Beaucoup speculation over price and timing

With Vivendi Universal facing an imminent cash shortfall, Vodafone looks set to table some kind of bid for full control of the media conglomerate's mobile subsidiary SFR, owned through telecoms group Cegetel. Speculation over the weekend has turned to when and how much an offer would be from Vodafone. The owners of Cegetel are Vodafone with 15 per cent, SBC Communications with 15 per cent, BT Group with 26 per cent and Vivendi with the remaining largest minority stake. Cegetel mobile arm SFR - France's second largest mobile network - is split 80:20 between Vivendi and Vodafone. The WSJ Europe is quoting "people familiar with the situation" as saying Vodafone will offer E4.7bn for Vivendi's Cegetel stake. It is thought SBC of the US and BT may also consider sales. Although Vivendi would welcome the cash - it owes E19bn in total and is struggling to put money into its portal joint venture with Vodafone, Vizzavi - analysts have put a price tag on the stake of between E6bn and E8bn. Vivendi Universal must repay E1.8bn to lenders by the end of July and has just appointed Jean-Rene Fourtou as the successor to Jean-Marie Messier. He is conducting a review and wants to decide on a re-organisation in September.