Canal+ owner Vivendi may split business

French media and telecoms giant Vivendi is launching a study into whether to split the business in two – separating off telecoms group SFR from a new international media group.

Vivendi, owner of French pay TV platform Canal+, said that the demerger “would create significant value to shareholders” as they would be able to invest in two clearly differentiated businesses, operating in different sectors.

To prepare for the potential split, Vivendi’s chairman of the board Jean-René Fourtou proposed that the firm appoint Vincent Bolloré as vice chairman of the board.

Bolloré was co-opted as a board member in December following the acquisition of channels Direct 8 and Direct Star by Canal+.

“The final decision regarding this demerger could be taken at the beginning of next year and submitted to the 2014 Shareholders’ Meeting,” Vivendi said in a statement.

The firm said that it was considering establishing a new media group, that would be based in France and contain its international music, internet and pay TV assets – including Canal+ Group and Universal Music.

“At a time when the increasing number of platforms and global distribution generate strong content demand, the group is aiming to develop in media on the basis of several growth activities,” said Vivendi.

It said that under the revised structure, SFR would gain greater freedom in terms of strategy and developing partnerships.

“It would fully benefit from improved performance thanks to its wide ranging management transformation, as well as a revitalised business sector boosted by the explosion in usage of very high speed fixed and mobile Internet and connectivity,” said Vivendi.

The news comes after Vivendi said in July that it had entered into exclusive negotiations with UAE telco Etisalat for the sale of its majority stake in Maroc Telecom.

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