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Vivendi tightens grip on Canal+

Vivendi has secured overall control of Société d’Edition de Canal Plus, the company that controls the Canal+ premium channel family in France, as a result of the tender offer it initiated in May.

Vivendi now controls 93.6% of SECP, with the tender resulting in the transfer of 45.2% of the share capital of the unit to it, on top of the 48.5% it already owned.

Vivendi said it would reopen the public tender for a period of at least 10 stock market days at the same price of €8 (US$8.86) per share to enable shareholders that not yet tendered their shares to do so.

Vivendi initiated its tender offer in May after it said it received a request from “a large number of SECP’s shareholders” to do so. The unit controls Canal+’s domestic premium channels and its terrestrial broadcasting licence in France.

Vivendi’s move, which was only made possible as a result of a 2009 change in the law to enable a single operator to control a terrestrial broadcasting licence, will simplify its ownership of Canal+ and give chairman Vincent Bolloré greater control.

Bolloré has been aggressively tightening his grip on Canal+ in recent months, most notably when he ousted CEO Rodolphe Belmer and replaced him with pay TV chief Maxime Saada, allegedly citing a lack of loyaty and transparency. He has also intervened on a number of politicially sensitive shows, including the long-running puppet satire Les Guignols de l’info and an investigative documentary about Crédit Mutuel.

Vivendi controls its stake in SECP through its 100% ownership of parent company Canal+ Group.