Vivendi Chief Rejects Talk of Sky Takeover

Macbeth Michael Fassbender
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

LONDON — The head of French conglom Vivendi, which owns Universal Music Group and pay TV group Canal Plus, has rejected speculation that it would buy European pay TV giant Sky.

Arnaud de Puyfontaine, Vivendi’s chief executive, told the Financial Times that he has no interest in buying Sky or, for that matter, U.K. free-to-air broadcaster ITV, which he views as too pricey.

This week, Vivendi entered exclusive talks with Orange to buy a controlling stake in video-sharing website Dailymotion. De Puyfontaine said that other deals would follow.

“We are on a journey to become a fully dedicated player in media and content,” he said. “We are thinking about transformational transactions.”

The company would look to unlock the “intrinsic value” in its acquisition targets, he said.

“We will not do deals just because we can do them,” he said. “We will do deals that are fit for purpose and which will create value for our shareholders.”

In the past two years, Vivendi has sold an estimated €35 billion ($37.8 billion) of assets, and is now sitting on cash totaling around €11 billion ($11.9 billion).

De Puyfontaine and Vincent Bollore, Vivendi’s chairman and its largest shareholder, plan to transform Vivendi into an operating company with divisions specializing in content production and distribution.

Studiocanal, the film and TV production arm of Canal Plus, has been ramping up activities in recent years. Its acquisitions have included controlling stakes in Tandem Communications in Germany and Red Production Company in the U.K.

Studiocanal’s movies have included “The Gunman,” produced by Joel Silver, and starring Sean Penn and Javier Bardem; “Paddington,” produced by “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman; and “Macbeth,” starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

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