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Altice Makes Bid for French Wireless Co.

European wireless giant Altice has made its first M&A move after its May agreement to acquire Suddenlink Communications and it’s not in U.S. cable. The Luxembourg-based telecom company confirmed reports over the weekend that its Numericable SFR subsidiary has made a bid for French wireless company Bouygues Telecom.

In a brief statement, Altice confirmed that it has made the Bouygues bid and that it “will update the market in due course.”

According to reports over the weekend, Altice bid about $11 billion in cash for Bouygues, a move that would create the largest wireless company in France. Combining with Numericable SFR would reduce the number of French wireless service providers from four to three, which could raise regulatory flags. French regulators have reportedly said such a union would be “undesirable,” but Altice apparently is trying to soften the blow by agreeing to divest some of its spectrum to other providers.   

The deal would be the first after Altice agreed to purchase a 70% interest in Suddenlink for $9.1 billion, a move the company said was the first of hopefully many in U.S. cable. While Altice is still expected to be a participant in U.S. consolidation, the Bouygues bid could be a distraction.