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Vivendi Acquires Stake in Banijay-Zodiak For $311 Million

Vivendi, the parent company of French pay TV giant Canal Plus and Universal Music Group, has acquired a 26.2-percent stake in Banijay-Zodiak for $311 million (290 million Euros).

Banijay-Zodiak is formed by Banijay Group, a top producer of unscripted formats, and Zodiak Media, which produces hit properties such as “Wallander” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo,” and distributes hit scripted formats including Canal Plus’ “The Returned” and “Versailles.” The merger of both companies will soon be finalized.

Vivendi’s deal, expected to be closed during the semester of 2016, includes 100 million Euros to acquire an interest in Banijay Zodiak and two bonds worth 100 million Euros and 90 million Euros to be issued by Banijay Zodiak and Lov Banijay, a holding structure controlled by Financière Lov, respectively. Each bond is redeemable at the issuer’s option in shares or cash and have a 7-year maturity.

“Vivendi plans to invest in one of the most successful creators of scripted and non-scripted programs for television and multimedia platforms. The combined company (Banijay-Zodiak) will own a powerful portfolio of popular brands and formats in the fields of entertainment, drama, factual, reality entertainment, docu-dramas, as well as children’s and animation programs,” said Vivendi in its statement.

Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine pointed out the acquisition was “part of a series of operations aimed at consolidating (Vivendi’s) presence throughout the TV value chain,” as well as own IP’s which can boost the Canal Plus brand. The shingle is also expected to develop more international content via Dailymotion, the rival of YouTube which Vivendi acquired in the Spring.

Vivendi has also been ramping up its investment in film. It acquired a 30-percent in leading movie production and distributor Mars Films, as well as launched U.K. film and TB shingle Guilty Party, in association with Studiocanal, Canal Plus’ film arm, and RED Production Company. In addition, Vivendi nabbed shares in vidgame shingles Ubisoft and Gameloft.

Driven by Canal Plus Group’s international operations and Universal Music Group’s streaming and subscription services, Vivendi’s revenues for the third quarter rose 4.5 percent to 3.52 billion Euros, while they dropped slightly at constant currency rates. EBITA dropped by 29.2% to 219 million Euros.

The company also acknowledged the recent shakeup launched by Vincent Bollore. “Vivendi’s businesses are facing profound and rapid changes in their respective industries, which leads to strong volatility in their economic performance from one quarter to the next.”

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