PARIS – France’s Vivendi has decided to start exclusive negotiations with media company Altice over the possible sale of its unit SFR, France’s No. 2 mobile phone operator.
The move is a blow for Bouygues, a conglomerate that had made a competing offer and raised it to 11.3 billion euros ($15.8 billion) this week.
Vivendi said in a statement Friday it will hold talks with Altice, owner of French cable operator Numericable, for three weeks and is keeping its options open if those talks fail.
Vivendi’s plans to sell SFR have drawn interest across the European mobile industry, which is trying to consolidate its 150 major operators, compared to just four in the United States.
Vivendi is trying to focus on its other holdings, the Universal Music Group and Canal+ pay television.