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The owners of Neuf Cegetel, the French telecoms operator, plan to sell about 20 per cent of the company through an initial public offering scheduled for this autumn.

The nine-year-old company, which sells broadband internet access as well as fixed and mobile telephone services, on Friday released a “document de base” in a preliminary step before a planned flotation on Euronext.

At the same time, it announced that turnover for the first half of 2006 rose 3 per cent on a pro forma basis to €1.423bn, while net profit was €107m, compared with a loss of €78m for the first six months of 2005.

Neuf Cegetel is currently 41 per cent owned by SFR, the number two mobile telephone operator in France, which is in turn owned by France’s Vivendi and Britain’s Vodafone.

Louis Dreyfus, a family-controlled conglomerate, created what is now Neuf Cegetel in 1997 and still owns 35 per cent of the company. Suez, the French utility, owns 12 per cent.

Jacques Veyrat, chairman and chief executive of Neuf Cegetel, said SFR and Louis Dreyfus would remain its key shareholders.

Although Neuf Cegetel predicted that some new shares would be issued, most of the offer would consist of shares currently held by Suez and financial investors such as Goldman Sachs and BC Partners.

Mr Veyrat declined to indicate how much Neuf Cegetel’s owners hoped to raise through a listing. In August Neuf Cegetel entered exclusive negotiations with AOL over the purchase of the internet service provider’s French operation.

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