Lagardere wants deal for Canal Sat before Jan.

Talks may revolve around Multithematiques stake

PARIS — France’s Lagardere group appears to have set a one-month deadline for completing negotiations to take a 30% stake in digital platform Canal Satellite.

Speaking in Paris on Wednesday, Lagardere co-head Arnaud Lagardere said he was optimistic that a deal could be signed, but he warned, “If it is not done by the end of the year, it will never be done.”

Lagardere is looking to acquire around 30% of Canal Satellite, which is majority-owned by the Canal Plus group. Canal Plus’ main shareholder, Vivendi, is willing to sell its 20% stake in Canal Sat and Time Warner is also unloading its 10%. Estimates are that Lagardere will have to pay in the region of $564 million.

Canal Plus chairman Pierre Lescure has gone on record as saying that there are no major obstacles in the way of an agreement with Lagardere, adding that his pay television group has not set a deadline for concluding a deal.

There is speculation that the discussions may be dragging on over Lagardere’s wish to acquire a one-third stake in Multithematiques — the joint venture between Canal Plus, Vivendi, TCI and Caisse des Depots, which controls some 21 cable and satellite channels.

Indications are that the value of the Multithematiques stake, estimated to be worth around $241 million, is the subject of debate between the various partners.

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