French watchdog rejects ‘imprecise’ Altice offer for SFR

French stock market regulator the AMF has blocked telecommunications company Altice’s bid to secure full control of its SFR subsidiary claiming that it lacked information for minority shareholders to judge it.

The proposed deal would have seen Altice take over the 22.5 per cent of the company that it does not already control in an all-share offer while also withdrawing SFR’s separate stock market listing. The AMF on Tuesday blocked the deal in a move Altice chief executive Michel Combes described as “totally incomprehensible”.

The watchdog yesterday (Wednesday) provided further details behind its decision, claiming that Luxembourg-based Altice had set out “imprecise” information about how SFR would compensate its mother company – guidelines that were needed by minority shareholders in order to examine the offer. The AMF stressed the deal was not rejected because of the exchange offer itself.

“In this context, it is therefore not possible to consider that the information provided to the minority shareholders, including the basis of the selected exchange ratio, is complete, intelligible and consistent with French rules,” the AMF said in a statement.

Combes told the Reuters news agency that Altice would move on from the verdict, although he added it might also appeal the decision.

SFR’s sports rights portfolio in France includes football’s English Premier League, rugby union’s English Premiership and the domestic Pro A men’s top-tier basketball competition.