Canal+, UPC near Poland pay merger

Pact creates leader in territory

PARIS — Pay TV supremo Canal Plus and Dutch cable giant United Pan-Europe Communications (UPC) are set to merge their pay TV units in Poland, creating the leader in that territory.

“The talks are very advanced,” said Laurence Gallot, a spokeswoman for Canal Plus.

Deal, which should be finalized some time this week, will give Canal Plus 75% of the new venture, UPC 25%.

The merger values the new company at $1,100 or $1,200 per subscriber. Each broadcaster has about 350,000 subscribers in Poland. Canal Plus also will invest $132 million in cash.

The planned merger, announced earlier this year, is the latest in a string for Canal Plus parent Vivendi Universal, which is seeking to cut costs in its Euro TV units.

Last month, Vivendi agreed to merge its Italian pay TV arm Telepiu with Murdoch-owned rival Stream and sold its 50% stake in Scandinavian satellite platform Canal Digital to Oslo-based partner Telenor.

Canal Plus Poland took home $136 million in revenues last year — an increase of 40% over the previous year — and doubled its subscriptions, giving it a strong position in its negotiations with UPC.

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