Lescure to top Canal+

PARIS — Pierre Lescure, second in command at Canal Plus, is likely to accept the post of chairman when he is proposed as a replacement for Andre Rousselet at a board meeting today, the firm’s spokeswoman told Reuters Tuesday.

“I flatly deny that Pierre Lescure will refuse the chairmanship,” she said.

Analysts in Paris speculated Lescure might decline the offer and follow the example of founder Rousselet and resign. Rousselet quit his post as chairman Monday, refusing to accept the terms of a shareholder pact agreed to last week.

Share price reflects uncertainty

Canal Plus shares have fallen sharply in the last two days after the boardroom coup by major investors Havas, Generale des Eaux and Societe Generale.

The Canal Plus spokeswoman said one of the new chairman’s first jobs would be to finalize talks with the government’s representative over the renewal of its broadcasting franchise.

In an interview due to appear on Feb. 17 in the weekly VSD, French Communications Minister Alain Carignon confirmed that the renewal of its franchise was all but complete.

“The only things to sort out are certain details concerning Canal Plus’ contribution to the development of cable TV,” he said.

Another source said the 450 million francs ($ 76.5 million) — which the company has promised the state to invest in cable TV over the next three years in return for the renewal of its franchise — could be used to launch joint ventures with other cable operators, investment in existing cable companies and on programming.

The source noted that “the conclusions of a government study on information highways could be made public in the spring.”

He said the conclusions of the report would have a bearing on the future of the French cable industry, and in particular on Canal Plus’s financial contribution to it.

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