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