Sawiris interested in buying Vivendi's SFR telecom business

Egyptian tycoon says "numbers are very high" in potential deal with the French group Vivendi.

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Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris is interested in buying the SFR telecom business from French group Vivendi, which is in the midst of a strategy review and working on asset sales, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

"We are looking at (SFR) through one of our subsidiaries," the FT quoted Sawiris as saying. "The problem is that the numbers are very high. (Vivendi owns) big assets so would require a big group."

Sawiris told Le Figaro newspaper earlier this week that he was interested in opportunities in France, but said that he had "no chance", given the four main telecom operators in the country were "Franco-French".

Sawiris, which lost out to private equity firm Apax Partners in an auction to buy France Telecom's Swiss unit, said on Monday that he had offered to buy a stake in heavily indebted Italian group Telecom Italia.

Vivendi Chief Financial Officer Philippe Capron said earlier this week when asked about its plans for SFR and media reports of possible combinations that there was an "effervescence" in the French telecom world.

"Everyone is talking to everyone and we have to talk to various parties to look at our options," he said.

He declined to comment on specific asset sales, saying the group's strategic review was going ahead "at full speed", though there was no fixed calendar for decisions.

Vivendi declined to comment.