Lagardere will buy 34% stake in Canal Satellite

Deal estimated at $935 million

PARIS — Arnaud Lagardere looks like he got his New Year’s wish. Having set an unofficial Dec. 31 deadline, Lagardere is reported to have reached a Christmas Eve agreement to take a 34% stake in France’s leading digital platform, Canal Satellite.

According to Le Figaro, the Lagardere group will pay around 5.8 billion francs ($935 million) for the stake. Full details are expected to be announced later this week.

Lagardere, which took a huge hit in the early ’90s when the group’s terrestrial broadcaster La Cinq went bankrupt, has been gradually getting back into television, acquiring a number of theme-based channels. Arnaud Lagardere has headed the group’s media division since September 1998.

Now the group owns 34% of a digital platform which has just under 1.4 million subscribers and 1999 revenues of $516 million. Pay television group Canal Plus remains Canal Satellite’s main shareholder.

The Lagardere stake comes primarily from Canal Plus’ main backer Vivendi, which has had its 20% share in Canal Satellite on the market for several months. Time Warner has also been looking to unload its 10% share.

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