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Gaul preps for merger

CanalSat, TPS union will have 8 million subscribers

Canal Plus Group has begun the reorg of France’s soon-to-merge satellite platforms CanalSat and TPS.

Deal, to be closed in coming weeks, will lead to the creation of a single pay TV giant in France boasting some 8 million subscribers.

New entity Canal Plus France will be 65% owned by Canal Plus Group, 20% by Lagardere, 9.9% by leading commercial web TF1 and 5.1% by France’s second commercial web, M6.

In the first major management change associated with the merger, TF1 announced Wednesday that Emmanuel Florent will segue from the chairmanship of TPS to a position at TF1 Group as assistant managing director in charge of development and diversification, reporting to group chairman-CEO Patrick Le Lay.

Merger is likely to be a done deal by early January, a Canal Plus spokesman said Wednesday, while it will take another six months for the reorganization to be completed.

By mid- to late March, the company will have decided which channels it will offer its clients and how it will package them, the spokesman said. For the moment, satellite customers are split between CanalSat, with around 3.2 million subscribers, and TPS, with around 1.3 million.

The bulk of Canal Plus clients — around 5 million — subscribe to the flagship premium channel, with an undisclosed number also subscribing to CanalSat.

CEO Bertrand Meheut said last week that the addition of TPS’ 600 employees to Canal Plus Group’s 3,000 would make the group “overstaffed,” but he refrained from saying how many layoffs there would be. French unions have put the figure at 200-400.

“It is too early to know yet,” the Canal Plus spokesman said Wednesday.

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