Could Universal become a sister company of Sky?

Vivendi is starting to loosen its purse strings.

The Universal parent has confirmed that it is in exclusive negotiations with Orange to buy 80% of YouTube rival DailyMotion for €217m.

Meanwhile, the financial press is rife with rumours that it’s also preparing to mount a bid for a chunk of Sky TV – something Vivendi has publicly denied.

According to Reuters, Vivendi is considering an approach for Rupert Murdoch’s televisual empire in order to expand the reach of its own pay-TV network, Canal+.

The news group reports that a full acquisition of UK-based Sky, including debt, would cost Vivendi around £28bn.

Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox owns 39% of Sky. Any merger deal would bring Murdoch together with Vincent Bollore, the Vivendi shareholder who recently raised his stake in the company twice, up to 12%.

Bollore and the management team at Vivendi are under pressure to make use of billions of dollars in cash reserves.

Hedge fund group PSAM, which owns just under 1% of Vivendi, is calling on the Board to pay out large sums in dividends to investors.

PSAM, run by Peter Schoenfeld, has presented fellow shareholders with an alternative plan for Vivendi’s future – which includes spinning out Universal into its own separate entity.

Vivendi has warned Schoenfeld that he risks hefty fines if he orchestrates a majority ownership of Vivendi outside of its native France.

Whatever the outcome of the DailyMotion negotiations, you have to give Vivendi one thing: this is surely one of the most to-the-point press releases in history.


Music Business Worldwide

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