French telecoms group SFR pays the price of reverse-charges takeover

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French telecoms operator SFR, which was acquired by the holding company of Swiss-based businessman Patrick Drahi in 2014, is losing subscribers to its mobile- and internet-based services by the hundreds of thousands. The haemorrhage threatens the future of the group, already struggling with heavy debts amid one of the toughest telecoms markets in Europe. Martine Orange analyses the cost-cutting, service-reducing strategy employed by Drahi, a champion of the technique of leveraged buyouts.

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Slowly but surely, French telecoms group SFR is crumbling. Destabilised after rival telecoms firm Free was handed France’s fourth mobile phone operating licence in 2012, SFR now appears to be on a path of inexorable decline since it was purchased from Vivendi by Franco-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi in November 2014.