Vivendi Acquires Paris Television Studio

Vivendi Chairman Vincent Bollore - H 2015
AP Images

Vivendi Chairman Vincent Bollore - H 2015

Part of the company's strategy to grow its content business, the facility, which hosted shoots for Billy Wilder and John Huston films in the past, will allow CanalPlus to produce more programming.

Vivendi chairman Vincent Bollore is continuing the strategy to build the former telecom company into a media and content powerhouse, with the company on Friday announcing the acquisition of the Studios de Boulogne, a TV studio complex, just outside of Paris.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The purchase of the studio will give Vivendi and its pay TV arm CanalPlus more control over its content production, which it said it wants to ramp up.

"This acquisition is in line with Vivendi’s industrial strategy to provide CanalPlus Group with the financial and technical means for its development," the company said. "It secures tighter control over its means of production in order to create and distribute more content."

The historic studio was once considered a cornerstone of the French film industry. In its heyday of the 1950s and 1960s, the studio hosted all-star productions by big American directors, such as Billy Wilder, John Huston and Stanley Donen, before being revamped in 2000 as a television studio. It has since seen several CanalPlus shows shoot there, including its beleaguered flagship news program Le Grand Journal.

The facility includes four studios and houses Flab Productions, a production house acquired by Vivendi earlier this year.

After selling off telecom assets, Vivendi has upwards of $10.1 billion (€9 billion) in the bank to fund acquisitions. The group has recently acquired a 90-percent stake in YouTube-competitor DailyMotion and is in exclusive talks with the newly-merged Banijay-Zodiak about possibly buying a stake company. It also purchased YouTube comedy producer Studio Bagel last year. DailyMotion also operates a large studio in central Paris for its productions.

The acquisition comes amid a massive shake-up at the group’s CanalPlus TV production arm. Bollare has taken personal control of the group, axing former CanalPlus head Rodolphe Belmer earlier this year and replacing him with Maxime Saada.

In July, he dismissed the head of the group’s D8, D17 and iTele channels and subsequently renamed them C8, C17 and CNews.

On Sept. 3, Bollore let go CanalPlus management board chair Bertrand Meheut and replaced him with close ally Jean-Christophe Theiry and himself became chair of the supervisory board. A day later, he dismissed the group managing editor Celine Pigalle and iTele’s head Cecilia Ragueneau.

CanalPlus head of cinema Nathalie Coste-Cerdan was a casualty earlier this week and was replaced by former Ubisoft Motion Pictures executive Didier Lupfer.

Vivendi also owns Universal Music Group, home to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, and ticketing agent See Tickets. It launched the Global Music Data Alliance earlier this year to form partnerships with brands and artists and promote ticket sales. It also launched Vivendi Contents to develop and monetize new video formats.