Vivendi Finalizing $1.4 Billion Deal to Buy Lagardere Stake in Canal Plus
PARIS – Vivendi and Lagardere reached a deal over the minority stake in French pay-TV giant Canal Plus, with Vivendi buying Lagardere's 20 percent minority stake for $1.4 billion (€1.02 billion) in cash. The deal was the result of six months of mediation in a Paris court, and followed a drawn-out legal battle over cash management between the two French media companies.
The two companies announced the agreement in a statement on Monday night.
The agreement "puts and end to all disputes between the two groups," the statement said.
It continued: "Vivendi wishes to thank Lagardere Group for successfully supporting the development of Canalsatellite and Canal Plus France over the past ten years. The Lagardere and Canal Plus Groups will continue to pursue their cooperation in program production and the publishing and distribution of television channels."
Previous reports from French business newspaper Les Echos said that a tentative deal was reached on Sunday night with Vivendi, which owns 80 percent of Canal Plus, to acquire the remaining 20 percent from Lagardere group for nearly $1.38 billion (€1 billion).
Lagardere issued a brief statement Monday morning confirming the reports. “Lagardere has announced further discussions with Vivendi to reach an agreement on Canal Plus France,” it said. The two companies are said to be finalizing a purchase price, with Lagardere valuing the stake at $1.58 billion (€1.15 billion) and Vivendi valuing it at around $1.24 (€900 million).
A spokesperson from Vivendi declined to comment to questions from The Hollywood Reporter.
UBS analyst Polo Tang framed the move as positive for Lagardere, as it will benefit from the immediate impact of the deal, but a bad one for Vivendi. “We see Canal Plus France as a low-growth asset that has been impacted by competition from BeIN Sport. The acquisition would also reduce shareholder returns for Vivendi,” he said.
The two companies have been feuding since February, when Lagardere sued Vivendi for $2.21 billion (€1.6 billion) in damages stemming from what Lagardere said was the misuse of Canal Plus cash surpluses by parent company Vivendi.
Lagardere has been trying to sell its minority shares for years and even attempted an IPO of its stake in 2011.
Vivendi has been trying to reposition itself as a media group, readying for an IPO of its telecom subsidiary SFR and restructuring to focus on its media holdings, including Universal Music Group. It sold off a chunk of its shares in a buyback deal with Activision Blizzard in October, though it still holds 12 percent of the video game giant.