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  • Thu, Oct. 20, 11:59 AM
    • Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.5%) has a new "fair warning" to Mediaset (OTCPK:MDIUY) in its contentious battle to acquire the Italian company's pay TV unit, but that doesn't preclude an alternative deal still being struck, sources told Reuters.
    • The TV unit, Mediaset Premium, plays a key role in Vivendi's strategy to use Southern Europe to advance its media ambitions. But Vivendi backed out of a binding deal to take full control in July, and the companies have been at legal loggerheads since (with a court date set for March).
    • Vivendi now says it's no longer interested in an amicable solution after Mediaset asked a court to order seizure of a 3.5% stake in Vivendi: "Enough is enough," said a Vivendi-tied source. "We've made a lot of efforts to find a solution. This is a fair warning."
    • Still, backchannel negotiations have been reported and are said to still be taking place. Vivendi is said to be working a preferred alternative where Mediaset and Vivendi would each get 40% of the Premium unit and a third party would hold the remaining 20%.
    | Thu, Oct. 20, 11:59 AM
  • Tue, Oct. 18, 1:17 PM
    • A heavy debt load tied to now-bankrupt Oi (NYSE:OIBR) means that Telecom Italia (TI +2.9%) isn't interested in a purchase, says CEO Flavio Cattaneo.
    • Speaking to newspaper Valor Economico, Cattaneo pointed to 20B reais (about $6.2B) in fines owed by Oi, almost the same as the market value of TI's Brazilian unit TIM Participações (TSU +1.9%). "If Oi manages to split its debt from its assets ... we will be watching," Cattaneo says.
    • Cattaneo took over as TI's CEO amid well-documented disputes between former chief Marco Patuano and investing shareholder Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +1.4%) over the disposition of TIM. Patuano was inclined to hold on to the Brazilian unit while Vivendi actively pushed to sell the division.
    • Previously: Patuano exit from Telecom Italia likely to speed pending deals (Mar. 29 2016)
    | Tue, Oct. 18, 1:17 PM | 7 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 10, 9:56 AM
    • Vincent Bollore has increased his hold on French media giant Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +1.5%), raising his stake in the firm to more than 20%.
    • Working through his investment company (OTCPK:BOIVF), Bollore bought shares that boosted a previous 15% stake, and said the purchase reflected a cash settlement of existing hedging and financing on 34M shares of Vivendi, and the acquisition of another 34.7M shares through a share loan agreement.
    • Taking into account double voting rights, Bollore will hold about 29% of voting rights in Vivendi by April 20. The holding makes up more than half Bollore Group's market cap, close to €5B.
    • "These operations reflect the confidence the Bollore Group has in Vivendi's potential for development and its willingness to remain as reference shareholder of the company in the long term," Bollore Group said in a statement.
    | Mon, Oct. 10, 9:56 AM | 1 Comment
  • Thu, Sep. 29, 7:10 PM
    • Embattled game maker Ubisoft (OTCPK:UBSFY -1.7%) and its founding Guillemot family have claimed a win as they try to fight off a hostile takeover by French media giant Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.5%), saying that today's annual meeting resulted in Ubisoft's slate being elected.
    • "The shareholders expressed massive support for the strategy and the management of Ubisoft," the company said. Shareholders re-elected Yves Guillemot and Gerard Guillemot as directors, and approved the appointment of two new independent directors, Frédérique Dame and Florence Naviner.
    • Shareholders also approved officer compensation. The board comprises 10 members (five independent directors).
    • Earlier, Vivendi -- which has been steadily building a stake in Ubisoft -- said it didn't intend to seek board seats just yet.
    • Some resolutions were rejected in the extraordinary portion, the company says, "due to Vivendi’s systematic obstruction, impeding the proper functioning of the Company, in particular regarding its competitive compensation policy for its talents."
    • Today in Paris, Ubisoft shares slipped 1.2%; Vivendi gained 0.7%.
    | Thu, Sep. 29, 7:10 PM | 2 Comments
  • Fri, Sep. 23, 6:24 PM
    • Still fighting off a hostile takeover from Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +0.2%), Ubisoft (OTCPK:UBSFY +0.4%) has agreed to buy another 3.2% of its stock for $137.5M.
    • The move comes ahead of Ubisoft's annual meeting next Thursday, where a board battle will come to a head.
    • Vivendi began buying shares of Ubisoft and Gameloft (OTCPK:GLOFY -0.7%) -- both run by the Guillemot family -- last year, and attained the votes to control Gameloft in May. That company's CEO Michel Guillemot resigned after that, replaced by Vivendi COO Stephane Roussel.
    • Ubisoft is buying 3.625M shares from Bpifrance for €33.80/share, for €122.5M total, in a transaction closing by the beginning of November. The company closed down 0.8% to €34.31 today in Paris.
    | Fri, Sep. 23, 6:24 PM | 1 Comment
  • Thu, Sep. 15, 10:03 AM
    • The first day in court between Mediaset (OTCPK:MDIUY) and French media giant Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.7%) is set for March 21, Reuters reports.
    • The two are in litigation over a deal gone sour that had Vivendi buying full control of Mediaset Premium, the Italian company's pay TV unit. Vivendi backed out of that April deal.
    • Meanwhile, Vivendi says the binding share-swap agreement it signed in April could be void after Sept. 30.
    • Observers think the two still could come to some kind of transaction if they can get together on price, though those chances may be shrinking as more legal rhetoric is inflamed.
    | Thu, Sep. 15, 10:03 AM
  • Tue, Sep. 13, 1:04 PM
    • Direct deals between Pandora Media (P -1.8%) and music labels -- Merlin Network, Sony Music (SNE -1.6%) and Universal Music Group (OTCPK:VIVHY -2.1%) -- should bring "enhanced subscription services" to market, the company says, an opportunity that the stock's cheerleaders have been waiting for.
    • The company's headed for a $5/month radio-based product in the near term and a $10 on-demand product by year-end, says J.P. Morgan's Doug Anmuth, who reiterated an Overweight rating. "Though mgmt. didn’t comment on specific features, it indicated that the mid-tier product will have options users have requested, which we believe could include the ability to listen offline, skip tracks, & pick a limited number of songs directly," he writes. "P expects contribution margins to be in the 30-35% range (consistent w/industry economics), & that it will have multiple subscription tiers."
    • The direct label deals preserve the economics of the core ad tier, says Piper Jaffray, which also reiterated its Overweight rating. The transition should "impact contribution margins near-term," but Piper expects the new functionality to "reinvigorate subscriber growth and help offset increased royalty costs," pointing to a "sizable" sub growth opportunity ahead.
    • Previously: Pandora +4.2% as SunTrust's Peck upgrades to Buy (Sep. 12 2016)
    | Tue, Sep. 13, 1:04 PM | 6 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 8, 12:23 PM
    • Mediaset (OTCPK:MDIUY +3%), in the middle of a legal fight over an aborted deal with Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +0.3%), has now taken a complaint to France's stock market regulator over Vivendi's statements about the deal.
    • The Italian broadcaster had sued Vivendi for damages after the French media giant backed out of a transaction to acquire pay TV operation Mediaset Premium. Vivendi then considered suing for defamation.
    • Mediaset is now asking regulator AMF to force Vivendi to amend statements about the deal it says are incorrect, including that the transaction was subject to due diligence.
    • Mediaset's damages case has a first hearing set for February.
    • Meanwhile, reports suggest that an alternate deal between the two may still be likely as backchannel negotiations continue over price.
    | Thu, Sep. 8, 12:23 PM | 1 Comment
  • Thu, Sep. 1, 10:25 AM
    • A contentious legal battle between media giants Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +0.8%) and Mediaset (OTCPK:MDIUY) is still likely to result in a pay TV transaction between the two, a CTFN report suggests, as the differences may amount to price.
    • Vivendi had reached a deal to acquire Mediaset Premium, the pay TV operation of the Italian broadcaster, in April. But in late July, Vivendi decided to back out, sinking Mediaset shares and resulting in a lawsuit. Vivendi threatened a defamation suit as well.
    • A source tells CTFN that they believe the suit's a strategy to force a new deal: “Mediaset Premium is burning more than €80 million cash a year. Mediaset wants to get rid of it before the end of the year so it does not have to include it in its 2016 financials."
    • Vivendi said it was unwilling to take 100% of the operation, instead seeking about 20% of Mediaset Premium, then a 15% stake in parent Mediaset.
    • A deal would be of a piece with Vivendi's recent moves (including its stake in Telecom Italia) to begin construction of a Southern Europe media platform strategy.
    | Thu, Sep. 1, 10:25 AM
  • Thu, Aug. 25, 3:57 PM
    • Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY) is off 1.2% in U.S. trading after posting an earnings report where continuing issues with pay TV contributed to declining profits.
    • Universal Music Group revenues grew when excluding currency effects, however, and income from operations there rose 26%.
    • Consolidated revenues fell 1.9% and adjusted net income was off 3.1% to €187M.
    • Revenue by segment: Universal Music Group, €1.2B (down 1.4%); Canal Plus Group, €1.3B (down 3.8%); Vivendi Village, €29M (up 11.1%); New initiatives, €28M.
    • In income from operations: Universal Music, €115M (up 26%); Canal Plus, €133M (down 38%); Vivendi Village, -€4M; New initiatives, -€8M. EBITA: Universal Music, €98M (up 10.8%); Canal Plus, €119M (down 46.8%).
    • Press Release
    | Thu, Aug. 25, 3:57 PM
  • Wed, Aug. 24, 5:37 PM
    • Orange (ORAN -1.4%) is denying reports that it's set a tie-up with Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +0.2%) that would include taking stakes in Telecom Italia (TI -0.6%) and Canal Plus.
    • Chatter about such a deal has been rampant in the past several months, even as Vivendi firmed up its move into TI holdings. But: "Orange obviously discusses with all content players in a sector that is constantly evolving, but the group formally denies having reached any secret deal with Vivendi including Canal Plus and Telecom Italia," a spokesman told Reuters.
    • French magazine Challenges said Orange had reached a secret deal where it would buy up to 20% of Canal Plus, Vivendi's pay TV operation, and that it separately would get shares of TI that are currently owned by Vivendi.
    • After hours: TI +3.6%.
    | Wed, Aug. 24, 5:37 PM | 2 Comments
  • Thu, Aug. 4, 12:39 PM
    • U.S. regulators are taking no new action on songwriter royalties, denying a bid by Sony/ATV (SNE +0.9%) and Universal Music publishing (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.1%) to rework decades-old deals governing payments.
    • The antitrust division of the Justice Dept. spent two years investigating the issue after music publishers argued existing deals with songwriter groups (Ascap and BMI) needed to be revised for a digital/streaming era.
    • But regulators said the existing terms benefit listeners while ensuring songwriters are compensated; the system "has well served music creators and music users for decades and should remain intact."
    • Publishers had argued for the right to "partially withdraw" from Ascap and BMI and negotiate one-off licenses directly with services like Pandora (P +1.3%) or Spotify (Private:MUSIC) -- a move that Pandora opposed.
    • Songwriters wanted better terms as well: BMI says it will challenge the new decision in court, while Ascap will seek legislative solutions.
    | Thu, Aug. 4, 12:39 PM | 4 Comments
  • Fri, Jul. 29, 11:32 AM
    • After backing out of a plan to acquire the TV operations of Mediaset (OTCPK:MDIUY) and being criticized for the turnaround, Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.1%) is now saying it may sue Mediaset for defamation.
    • "Vivendi reserves the right" to sue over the denunciations, the company told Reuters. "Mediaset's statements undermine the reputation of Vivendi. Vivendi will do whatever it takes to restore its reputation."
    • Mediaset shares closed down 8.5% today in Milan. They had tumbled 6.7% on Tuesday as Vivendi exited its deal.
    • Mediaset has said it was surprised by Vivendi's backing off from a deal that was in heavy negotiations last winter before an agreement this spring. But Vivendi has said it warned Mediaset with several letters that the deal might need to be changed (though relations are certainly getting icier now).
    • "We no longer want control," said Vivendi chief Arnaud de Puyfontaine as Vivendi backed out. Mediaset said it has rejected a counter-offer from Vivendi and will also seek legal action against the French giant.
    | Fri, Jul. 29, 11:32 AM | 2 Comments
  • Tue, Jul. 26, 7:23 PM
    • Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.1%) is backing out of a deal to buy the TV operations of Mediaset (OTCPK:MDIUY -5.6%), the company controlled by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
    • Vivendi said it was unwilling to take the 100% of the money-losing operation, and its CEO says "We no longer want control."
    • Mediaset shares fell 6.9% in Milan.
    • Price differences had slowed negotiations last winter; now Vivendi is reportedly seeking just 20% of the TV arm Mediaset Premium, then a 15% stake in parent Mediaset, rather than the agreed 100%.
    • Vivendi is now offering to come to a "new agreement, under different terms, so as to pursue discussions," but Mediaset is saying there are no ongoing negotiations: “Vivendi had the chance to analyze Mediaset Premium results prior to signing the agreement."
    | Tue, Jul. 26, 7:23 PM
  • Tue, Jul. 19, 10:20 AM
    • Mounting a spirited defense against a takeover by Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -1.3%), Ubisoft (OTCPK:UBSFY +3.9%) may be getting traction with investors with a case to pursue better returns on its own.
    • Shares of Ubisoft are up 4.9% in Paris to a 52-week high there.
    • Vivendi increased its stake in Ubisoft to more than 20% of capital today, and has already taken control of sibling company Gameloft (OTCPK:GLOFY), also run by the Guillemot family.
    • Ubisoft founder Yves Guillemot is pushing institutional shareholders to back the family's approach, which includes buying up more stock (the Guillemots hold 9% of capital and 15% of voting rights).
    • Vivendi says it's not pursuing a full takeover for at least six months, though it has asked for board seats.
    • Ubisoft reports its Q1 sales tomorrow, with eyes on the success of its recent release The Division.
    | Tue, Jul. 19, 10:20 AM
  • Wed, Jun. 29, 4:19 PM
    • Having succeeded in taking control of Gameloft (OTCPK:GLOFY), Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +4%) has installed its chief operating officer as CEO of the French videogame maker.
    • Stephane Roussel will also be chairman at Gameloft. He and four other boardmembers have been set up by Vivendi.
    • Gameloft's board resigned today, after longstanding protests against Vivendi's ownership and claims that the new owners would destroy shareholder value.
    • "We intend to mobilize our expertise to develop franchises from Gameloft, its partners and from Vivendi, and deploy them as widely as possible," Roussel wrote to employees.
    • Gameloft rose 1.1% today in Paris.
    | Wed, Jun. 29, 4:19 PM