French pay TV group plans to lay off 170 staff

PARIS — Negotiations are underway with French unions over Canal Plus Group’s restructuring plans, following its recent merger with rival pay TV operator TPS.

The group told union reps on Monday it will lay off 170 staff in coming months, as it folds TPS’ services into its own.

In all, some 364 jobs will go, 9.5% of the merged entities’ 3,840-strong workforce, but more than half the employees are expected to find jobs within parent company Vivendi.

After a hiring freeze in the months leading up to the merger, Vivendi has 286 jobs to fill across its divisions, including 150 at Gallic telco SFR.

Earlier this month Vivendi topper Jean Bernard Levy unveiled ambitious targets for Canal Plus Group, which has a virtual pay TV monopoly in France, after years of financially crippling competition with TPS.

Over the next five years, Levy wants the pay TV operator to up its operating profit margin from 5% to 20%, or some e1 billion ($1.3 billion) annually.

Canal Plus also aims to improve margins by renegotiating output deals and sports rights, and slashing marketing spend.

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