Vivendi in €4.2bn Maroc Telecom stake sale talks with Etisalat
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The talks with the Abu Dhabi-based operator brings Vivendi a step closer to completing its first big asset sale since Jean-Bernard Lévy, its former chief executive, left the company last year after differences with the board.
Since then, investors have been pressing Jean-René Fourtou, Vivendi’s chairman, to execute the deep changes that he flagged since announcing a “strategic review” last July.
Mr Fourtou, 74, and Vivendi’s new management plan to turn the Paris-based group – which has interests spreading from television and music to telecoms and video games – into a leaner, more focused company.
Vivendi owns Universal Music Group as well as Canal Plus, the French pay-TV company – two companies that analysts believe could form a more coherent core of a smaller and more slender Vivendi.
But, until Tuesday’s announcement, investors had seen little change, and the company’s attempts to sell assets, including GVT, the Brazilian telecoms company, have so far failed to materialise.
According to a statement early on Tuesday, Etisalat’s offer values Vivendi’s 53 per cent stake of Maroc Telecom at 92.6 Moroccan dirhams a share, which would hand Vivendi €4.2bn in cash from the sale, including a 2012 dividend of €310m.
Vivendi said that the two sides intend to close the sale before the end of this year, pending regulatory approvals.
News of the exclusive talks came a day after SFR, Vivendi’s wholly owned telecoms provider, said that it had entered into discussions with Bouygues Telecom, to share part of their mobile phone networks.
The two telecoms companies, the second and third biggest in France by number of subscribers, said that they hoped to reach an agreement by year-end that would allow them to expand geographically and to invest more efficiently in very-high-speed networks.
Shares in Vivendi closed up 2.4 per cent on Tuesday at €16.08.
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