PARIS, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Telecoms tycoon Patrick Drahi is
in talks to buy French firm Eutelsat in a deal that
would see one of his investment vehicles take direct control of
the Paris-listed satellite operator, two sources familiar with
the matter told Reuters.
Drahi is working with banks on the project and recently made
a bid approach for Eutelsat which has a market value of 2.3
billion euros ($1.96 billion) and is backed by state investor
Bpifrance with a 20% stake, the sources said, speaking on
condition of anonymity.
Eutelsat, one of the world's leading commercial satellite
operators, has turned down Drahi's initial proposal, one of the
sources said, adding the price was deemed too low but talks
Drahi and Eutelsat were not immediately available for
comment. Bpifrance declined to comment.
The Franco-Israeli businessman and founder of cable and
mobile telecoms company Altice has held direct talks with
Eutelsat's top investors, the sources said.
He recently reached out to the French government to seek
approval for his takeover plan, one of them said.
A representative for the French government declined to
Drahi, who started his career in the satellite industry,
has no plans to merge Eutelsat with his telecom and media assets
and would keep the French firm within a separate holding
company, the sources said, pointing to the possibility of using
this platform to pursue further deals in the fragmented
A shrewd dealmaker, Drahi recently received regulatory
approval to take telecoms group Altice Europe private
after its minority shareholders approved his buyout offer for
In June he took a 12.1% stake in British telecom operator BT
Group using newly-created vehicle Altice UK.
Founded in 1977, Eutelsat has suffered five consecutive
years of declining revenues and recently bought about 24% of
British rival OneWeb for $550 million - the biggest deal since
chief executive Rodolphe Belmer took office in 2016.
($1 = 1.1714 euros)
(Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic and Pamela Barbaglia, additional
reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Michel Rose; Editing by
Kirsten Donovan and Jonathan Oatis)