Cinven completes French cable deal

The second largest cable company in France has been created following the €528m sale of their cable activities by France Télécom and Vivendi Universal.

European private equity house Cinven and Luxembourg-headquartered cable operator Altice have agreed to acquire the cable operations of France Télécom and Vivendi Universal for €528 million ($706 million).

The new group will comprise France Télécom Câble, which includes TDF cable networks and NC Numéricâble, a subsidiary of Group Canal+.

Under the transaction, Cinven will hold a majority of 50.01 percent of the new group with Altice holding 10 percent. France Télécom and Canal+ will each retain a 20 percent stake each in the new group.

The deal, which is expected to complete in the first half of 2005 following regulatory approval, will create the second largest cable TV company in France with 1.8 million subscribers.

Commenting on the transaction, Cinven partner Nicolas Paulmier said in a statement: “Today, cable offers the highest bandwidth in the market. We will be investing in [the group’s] networks, sales force and product offerings with a view to providing the very best service to customers.”

Cinven is currently investing its €4.4 billion buyout fund that closed in April 2002. The firm’s previous investments in the media sector include the acquisitions of Aprovia and MediMedia, the business and healthcare publishing businesses of Vivendi Universal in 2002 for €493 million and €523 million respectively.

Altice is an investment firm that focuses exclusively on the European cable industry. Previous investments in the sector include the acquisitions of cable operators in Alsace, Est Vidéocommunication and Luxembourg, Coditel Brabant.