Vodafone cool on ambitions for Cegetel
Bluff and counter-bluff
Gent's apparently lukewarm ambitions for Cegetel may be yet another ruse to persuade cash-starved French media company Vivendi Universal to make a quick decision on selling its 44% holding in the company to Vodafone.
Cegetel's main attraction is that it owns an 80% holding in mobile operator SFR. While Vivendi wants to hang on to the company, it bankers may well insist that selling out to Vodafone is the only way to make a rapid inroad into its debts.
As France is the one gap in Vodafone's European network, SFR is a prime target for the company. However, given recent weakness in its share price on doubts about the prospects of 3G, the world's largest mobile carrier is anxious to avoid a bidding war.