Vivendi, BSkyB deal gets approval stamp

Satcaster shares jump $1.18

LONDON — Vivendi’s acquisition of a 25% stake in satcaster BSkyB has been cleared by the U.K.’s Competition Commission.

The move comes as a surprise to some observers. There had been speculation that the French media conglom’s offer would not get a seal of approval.

Stephen Byers, the trade and industry secretary, however, said there were “insufficient grounds to expect the merger to affect competition or consumers in the U.K., and the merger may be expected not to operate against the public interest.”

Vivendi, the parent of France’s Canal Plus pay TV platform, has been frustrated that at a time when U.S. mergers are proceeding, its efforts to take a more active role in BSkyB were on hold.

Euro giants

It has been reported that Vivendi and Germany’s Kirch Group are considering adding their assets to News Corp’s planned amalgamation of its satellite interests and digital operations. An important contribution could be MAP, the mobile Internet portal Vivendi is setting up with Vodafone on the continent. It represents a business at present missing from News Corp’s assets.

BSkyB said it “looks forward to continuing its efforts to create even greater value for all shareholders and welcomes Vivendi as an investor in BSkyB.”

Shares in the satcaster jumped $1.18 to $23.92 on news of the green light for Vivendi, bucking the current trend of falling media stocks.

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