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Viv U sells its Sogepaq stake

Sogecable takes back holding that was sold in 2001

MADRID — Vivendi Universal has begun its pullout from Spain, selling its 45% in distrib Sogepaq back to production, distribution and TV powerhouse Sogecable for 48 million euros ($54.2 million).

Viv U held the stake in Sogepaq via StudioCanal, the film arm of Viv U’s French pay TV Canal Plus Group. It acquired the holding from Sogecable in 2001 for $45.5 million.

StudioCanal’s exit from Sogepaq is a further step in the dismantlement of Viv U’s Pan-European distrib network and its more general divestment of foreign media assets in Europe in order to focus on its French pay TV biz.

Deal also reps a vote of confidence in Sogepaq by Sogecable.

The high-flying distrib scored heavily in Spain distribbing via Warner Sogefilms the two highest-grossing pics in Spanish cinema history, both co-produced by sister company Sogecine: Alejandro Amenabar’s “The Others” made $30.8 million at the Spanish B.O., and “Mortadelo & Filemon: The Big Adventure” grossed $25.7 million in Spain.

“Sogecable is right behind Sogepaq and happy to assume total ownership,” Fernando Bovaira, Sogecable general manager, film production and distribution, told Daily Variety.

Last December, StudioCanal sold its 60% in German distrib Tobis to fellow shareholders. It is also expected to exit 01 Distribution, its joint distrib venture in Italy with pubcaster RAI.

The Canal Plus Group sold Italian pay TV digital platform Telepiu to News Corp. for $984 million in April.

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