Tube operator purchased for $78 million

PARIS — Despite the excitement surrounding its negotiations with NBC, Vivendi Universal is quietly selling other assets.

Viv U and its Gallic subsid Canal Plus Group said Tuesday that they will sell Nordic pay TV operator Canal Plus Television to private equity groups Baker Capital and Nordic Capital for 70 million euros ($78 million).

Sale will contribute $60 million to Viv U’s debt reduction scheme, after loan retirements.

The Stockholm-based cabler produces pay channels in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden as well as two pan-Nordic channels and a pay-per-view service.

Deal is the latest effort by parent Viv U to trim Canal Plus’ European assets outside France.

Since the beginning of this year, the company has sold its loss-making Italian pay TV unit Telepiu to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., its 89% stake in Canal Plus Technologies to Thomson Multimedia and Canal Plus Group’s 50% stake in Nordic satcaster Canal Digital.

Much talk has surrounded the still-unconcluded sales of Canal Plus Benelux and Canal Plus Poland, although Canal’s topper Bernard Meheut has said the group is moving forward with those deals.

Viv U said Tuesday the deal for the Nordic arm was subject to regulatory approval, but should be wrapped before the end of the year.

Baker Capital, which has $1.5 billion under management, specializes in communications investments, while Nordic Capital is a Swedish concern that focuses on well-established Nordic companies.

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