Mobile phone giant Vodafone has confirmed that it is in talks to buy SFR, the second largest mobile operator in France.
Vodafone is looking to buy either BT's 26 per cent stake in French telecoms firm Cegetel, SFR's parent, or media giant Vivendi's 44 per cent shareholding. Either deal would give Vodafone a controlling interest in Cegetel.
The UK-based telco already owns 15 per cent of Cegetel but needs the rest in order to take control of SFR. Vodafone has a 20 per cent stake in SFR with Cegetel holding the remainder.
France is currently the only major European market where Vodafone does not control a mobile operator.
Analysts suggested earlier this week that Vodafone might make a hostile bid for Vivendi's 44 per cent stake in Cegetel, as it has a $10.65bn bank facility at its disposal.
According to the Financial Times, Vodafone chairman Sir Christopher Gent told a meeting of investors at Lehman Brothers that an offer for SFR "would be in line with market valuations".
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