Vivendi Chairman Increases Company Stake to 10.2 Percent

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Vincent Bollore

Vincent Bollore spends $687 million to raise his firm's stake in the company from 8.2 percent.

Vivendi chairman Vincent Bollore has raised his stake in the French conglomerate to 10.2 percent.

The French billionaire, who became chair last year, previously owned an 8.2 percent stake via his Group Bollore. Now, the firm has acquired 27.7 million additional shares of Vivendi for $687 million (€632 million).

The company had already boosted its Vivendi stake earlier in the month, and Bollore has signaled he would like to own around 15 percent of Vivendi down the line.

The move to increase Bollore's voting power comes ahead of a showdown next month with shareholders urging big dividend payouts. U.S. hedge fund P. Schoenfeld Asset Management, which owns a stake of about 0.8 percent in Vivendi, earlier this week suggested a $9.8 billion (€9 billion) special dividend for shareholders.

"While there could be a very significant cash return story at Vivendi, there is just too much uncertainty over Bollore's intentions to be confident of a positive outcome," said Liberum Capital analyst Ian Whittaker, who has a "hold" rating on the company's stock.

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