Canal Plus sells cable stake

Deal awaits Euro approval

PARIS — French paybox Canal Plus has sold a 37% stake in its NC Numericable cable subsid to Exante, a group of North American investors. No price has been put on the stake and the deal is still subject to approval by the European authorities.

Canal Plus has controlled NC Numericable since it acquired 100% of the company from Vivendi (ex Compagnie Generale des Eaux) in November 1997.

The cable operation has 630,000 subscribers in France from 2 million homes, making it France’s second largest cable television company.

Exante is a collection of North American investors, headed by former US West Intl. head Richard Callahan’s Callahan Associates International (CAI).

Callahan has brought together BancAmerica Equity Partners and Capital Communications CDPQ — the private investment subsid of the Caisse de Depots et de Placement du Quebec — as well as General Electric subsid GE Capital Services and CAG (France) — a joint venture between CAI and New York investment company Angelo, Gordon & Co.

Exante will purchase its stake via a new share issue. The arrival of the North American backers will help fund NC Numericable’s plans to develop the cable outfit into a multiservice operator.

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