Inside Move: Sale’s unfurled

Prisa scuttles buzz of pullout

Last week, French economic daily La Tribune reported that Prisa, Spain’s biggest media company, had agreed to sell its 21% stake in Spanish pay TV conglom Sogecable to Canal Plus Group.

“Oh, no, we haven’t,” the Spanish group retorted Oct. 4, pouring cold water on the idea that Spain will be the next territory to receive a pay TV makeover. An equally speedy denial came from Canal Plus Group, which also owns 21% of Sogecable.

There might be advantages to such a sale. Having dazzled analysts with pay TV mergers in Italy and Poland, Vivendi Universal may enhance its standing with investors with the notion that it could pull off a similar coup in Spain.

As Viv U chairman Jean Marie Messier suggested in July, the departure of the socialist-friendly Prisa might neutralize opposition from Spain’s conservative government to a merger of Sogecable satcaster Canal Satelite Digital with rival platform Via Digital.

But first Prisa has to want to sell — and it has given no indication that this is the case.

This summer Prisa and Canal Plus inked to extend their shareholder partnership in Sogecable until December 2002.

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