Vodafone is considering purchasing SFR if it comes up for sale. This prospect is quite likely – Vivendi Universal, SFR’s parent company, is extremely troubled – but the UK mobile operators’ investors are not happy.
Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the group’s credit rating to junk and CEO Jean-Marie Messier has been expelled. However, at present Vivendi Universal is reluctant to put SFR up for sale as provides a good revenue generator for the company.
Vodafone already has a 12% indirect stake in SFR through its Cegetel holding. This combined with its direct stake gives Vodafone a total holding of 32%. It is estimated that the world’s number one operator could be looking a paying anything up to $13.8 billion for the France’s second largest operator.
The cost of purchasing the operator (combined with dubious rumors of accounting problems) shocked Vodafone shareholders. For the first time since 1997 its share price fell below 80 pence. Vodafone shares closed at 80.5 pence yesterday.