TW may sell CanalSatellite stake even as profit nears

10% share of digital platform valued at $170 mil

PARIS — Time Warner is reported to be considering selling its 10% stake in French digital platform CanalSatellite.

Launched in 1992 as a satellite broadcaster, CanalSatellite converted to a digital platform in April 1996 and currently has some 1.2 million subscribers. Time Warner acquired a 10% stake in January 1998, with pay television group Canal Plus and its main backer Vivendi holding the remaining 90%.

Neither Canal Plus nor Time Warner would comment on the future of Time Warner’s 10%, but Daily Variety understands that discussions between the two have taken place.

During the summer, Vivendi picked up 20% of CanalSatellite from Jerome Seydoux’s Pathe group in a deal which valued CS in the region of 10.5 billion francs ($1.7 billion). Estimates are that Time Warner’s stake may be valued in excess of $170 million.

CanalSatellite is tipped to hit operating breakeven this year and turn its first profit in 2000. A question being posed is whether CP would buy out Vivendi and TW or seek a new partner.