If the current talks between Vivendi Universal and France Telecom come to fruition, US cable entrepreneur John Malone may learn to his cost that when it comes to fighting transatlantic incursions into their finacial backyards, the French are anything but 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys'.

The two communications giants are currently mulling the advantages of merging their cable interests, conscious of the threatening implications of a recent move by Malone's Liberty Media to acquire numero un French cable company Noos which boasts 1.1 million customers.

France Telecom, in second place, has 847,000 customers, while Vivendi's Numericable network (at number three) boasts 798,000. If the two networks merge, they will outgun Noos/Malone with over 1.6m subscribers.

Although a Vivendi-France Telecom deal is far from concluded, those close to the negotiations expect an outcome within the next three to four weeks.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff