France's SFR ‘to cut one third of staff’ says report

28 July 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Altice’s French operator, SFR, is to fire a third of its workforce, union representatives have told Reuters. The agency says that 5,000 staff will go between 2017 and 2019.

SFR shopAltice bought mobile operator SFR from Vivendi in 2014 for an initial €13.5 billion to merge it with its cable business, Numericable. At the time Patrick Drahi, who owns Altice, said he would not slim down the workforce until 2017, a deadline he will stick to, according to Reuters.

Michel Combes, the former Vodafone and Alcatel-Lucent executive who is now CEO of SFR, has already warned French politicians that the company will have to adjust the size of its workforce.

Most French operators are under pressure, since Iliad’s Free started a low-cost mobile offering in 2009, competing with Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom. Orange and Bouygues failed to agree a merger deal earlier in 2016.

Bouygues has already reduced its workforce over the past three years from 8,500 to 6,500 under a voluntary programme.

Earlier this year, SFR was reported to be considering selling its Belgian operation. Parent company Altice now owns US cable operators Cablevision and Suddenlink.