French anti-trust watchdog must OK $387.5 million deal

French pay TV giant Canal Plus Group has inked with Bollore Media to gain control of its two DTT channels, Direct 8 and Direct Star.

Deal, which has to be approved by France’s antitrust authorities, would allow Canal Plus Group to enter the DTT biz and own 60% of Bollore Media’s TV business.

Estimated at €279 million ($387.5 million), the transaction would be paid with Vivendi shares. If the deal is approved by authorities, Canal Plus will take over the operational management of the two channels and their advertising sales division.

Apart from providing a diversification opportunity, the agreement is in line with Canal Plus Group’s core growth strategy in Gaul. “This partnership is intended to prepare the Canal Plus Group for the arrival in the television sector of new operators such as Apple, Netflix, Google, etc.,” said Canal Plus Group prexy-CEO Bertrand Meheut. “The company’s entry into the free television market will enable it to strengthen its capacity to produce distinctive content and enhance its editorial lines with high-quality programs, while using all available operating media to exploit those programs.”Yannick Bollore, topper of Bollore Media, emphasized the successful track record of the group’s two DTT channels, which bowed a few years ago and have since made Bollore the leading independent digital operator in France.

A Canal Plus Group rep said the deal with Bollore did not change the company’s plan to launch Canal 20, a free-to-air, generalist channel featuring high-quality original programming.

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