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Pas Vrai, Says Neuf

8:30 AM -- You can tell negotiations are at a delicate stage when a service provider issues a public denial saying that it hasn't sealed an acquisition deal -- yet.

That's the case today with French alternative carrier Neuf Cegetel Group (Euronext: NEUF).

Neuf is one of a number of parties believed to be interested in buying ISP and triple-play service provider Club Internet , one of the international assets Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) is hoping to sell. (See Eurobites: M&A Hotbed and DT Plans M&A, IPTV Push.)

Today, French newspaper Les Echos reported that Neuf had won the race, having bid up to €460 million (US$623 million), higher than a rival offer of up to €400 million ($542 million) from Iliad (Euronext: ILD).

But Neuf issued a press release this morning, noting that it hasn't concluded any deal related to the acquisition of Club Internet -- yet.

That 'yet' -– or "à ce jour," as Neuf put it -- suggests DT's French outpost, which is one of Europe's few IPTV service providers with nearly one year of triple-play experience, is on the brink of being swallowed in the latest local battle to keep pace with incumbent Orange (NYSE: FTE). (See Club Internet Unveils IPTV , Neuf Cegetel Buys AOL France, and Iliad Buys Into French FTTH.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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