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Vivendi settles dispute with shareholder

Vivendi and activist hedge fund P. Schoenfeld Asset Management have settled their dispute over Vivendi’s cash return policies, with the French media giant agreeing to pay out approximately €6.75 billion (US$7.27 billion) to shareholders thanks to an exceptional dividend.

Schoenfeld for its part has agreed to accept Vivendi’s core media strategy, abandoning its call for the sale of Universal Music Group, and has acknowledged the role played by Vivendi supervisory board chairman Vincent Bolloré in creating value.

The hedge fund has withdrawn the draft resolutions that were to be put to Vivendi’s annual general meeting next week calling for an exceptional payout of €9 billion, and has said it will vote against a resolution aimed at preventing the adoption of rules giving established shareholders double voting rights, as prescribed by France’s Florange law.

Vivendi will, on completion of the sale of Brazilian unit GVT and its remaining stake in Numericable-SFR, propose to shareholders an additional distribution of €2 per share, with €1 to be paid out in the fourth quarter of this year and €1 to be paid out in the first quarter of 2016. This will be in addition to Vivendi’s existing proposed payout of €1 per share for the 2016 and 2017 financial years.

“These distributions demonstrate our willingness to reach a consensus with some of our minority shareholders, even if it may result in reduced flexibility for Vivendi in the implementation of its strategic ambition to build a major media and content group,” said Vivendi management board chairman Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

Bolloré said he “supported the decisions taken by the Management Board that have been made possible only by the excellent work carried out with respect to asset divestments” and added that he would vote in favour of all draft resolutions submitted by the management board to the shareholders’ meeting.