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Lagardere denies report of buy plans

Gallic media co. decries rumor of Canal Plus acquisition

PARIS — Gallic media company Lagardere Wednesday denied reports that it was raising cash to finance the acquisition of Canal Plus.

Rumors have linked Lagardere with the paybox since January, and speculation deepened after reports that board members of troubled conglom Vivendi Universal wanted to spin off the media assets.

Lagardere has plenty of funds: it pocketed a more-than-expected x768 million ($704 million) in a bond sale Tuesday. Company had been planning to raise $648 million selling bonds exchangeable into shares of its Internet subsid T-Online.

In January, Denis Olivennes, then-CEO of Canal Plus, hotly denied that Viv U topper Jean-Marie Messier had any plans to sell the paybox. Olivennes has since quit his post over differences with Messier.

Lagardere has been expanding its media holdings, which include a 34% stake in Canalsatellite, pay web Match TV and Pan-Euro radio station Europe 1; Premiere, Paris Match and Elle magazines; plus 16 French Virgin Megastores.

CEO Arnaud Lagardere said in March that he wanted further acquisitions to boost the company’s media business in the U.S. and Europe and that digital radio and TV were a priority.