Vivendi remains the most likely buyer

CANNES — Gallic conglom Lagardere confirmed Thursday its intention to sell a 20% stake in Gallic paybox giant Canal Plus France. CPF is 80% owned by Vivendi via its 100% film-TV subsid, Canal Plus Group.

But getting a good price for the stake is no slam dunk.

The divestment, while expected, raises questions about boss Arnaud Lagardere’s commitment to the TV biz. Lagardere is already in negotiations to sell V17, a digial terrestrial television channel, to Gaul’s Bollore Group.

Lagardere can “find a buyer or force an initial public offering,” Enders Analysis’ Francois Godard told Daily Variety. “The only possible interested buyer” is Vivendi itself, he added.

Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy told analysts in March that Vivendi wanted to buy out minority shareholders in Canal Plus and telco SFR.

An IPO, selling the stake on the stock market, “would be costly and may not deliver to Lagardere as much as Vivendi may offer,” Godard said.

Vivendi is likely to offer much less than the x1.5 billion ($2 billion) Lagardere wants, Godard said.

For Lagardere, a Canal Plus exit was widely expected.

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