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Inside Move: Canal buzz reaches Croisette

Fate of paybox uncertain

Canal Plus is putting on a festive face at the fest, but back in Paris, Vivendi management and a determined corporate raider are haggling over the fate of the Gallic paybox.

Norwegian investor Alexander Vik is pushing for the break-up of parent company Vivendi’s telco and TV businesses. It’s far from certain where that would leave film unit Studio Canal.

That has caused an undeniable nervousness among execs here on the Croisette.

But they will be putting such thoughts from their minds as they gear up for a party they are hosting tonight at the luxurious Villa Khayat in the Cannes hills.

“The only subject of conversation here is films and parties,” insisted one.

So far Vivendi has resisted Vik’s move, calling a $49.8 billion breakup plan he put forward “totally mediocre.”

But Vik, whose investment vehicle Sebastian Holdings owns more than 4% of the conglom, is working hard to win the support of Lagardere, a major Canal Plus shareholder, and Vodaphone, which has hankered after Vivendi’s moneymaking mobile phone company SFR for ages.

Both Vivendi and Vik have been building up their arsenal of bankers and advisors for a potential show-down. Vik has 19 billion euros in financing for the bid from his advisors Deutsche Bank and Bank of America, a source told Variety on Tuesday.

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