The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vodafone not to up Cegetel bid

Paris, Nov. 9 (Reuters): Vodafone will not raise its 6.77 billion euro (£ 4.3 billion) bid for Vivendi’s 44 per cent stake in telecom venture Cegetel, Vodafone CEO Chris Gent has been quoted as saying.

“Our price is fair. It’s the market price, and this is borne out by the sharp rise in Vivendi’s share price the day it came out,” Gent said in an interview for Saturday’s edition of daily Le Figaro, released late on Friday.

He also threatened to block any move by Vivendi to merge Cegetel with Belgian state-controlled phone firm Belgacom, though that option—mooted by sources as a way of helping Vivendi keep hold of Cegetel—has already taken a backseat.

He said Vodafone had the right to block such a move under a pact between shareholders in Cegetel, in which Vodafone has 15 per cent.

Gent dismissed recent speculation that Vodafone could launch a takeover bid for Vivendi Universal itself as an alternative way of getting control of Cegetel and its 80 per cent stake in the SFR mobile network, France’s second largest.

“Never! We have never even thought about it. Others thought of it and wrote to us about it, but it has no sense for us.”

Vodafone already owns the other 20 per cent in SFR. Vivendi wants majority control of Cegetel to gain access to its cashflow and has until December 10 to match a four billion euro Vodafone bid for BT’s 26 per cent stake.

Speculation that Vivendi would pre-empt the Vodafone bid for BT’s stake, or that Vodafone would raise its own bid for Vivendi’s stake, increased earlier on Friday after Vivendi set out plans to sell its water utility over the next two years.

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