Will Vivendi Make The Best Use Of Its Incoming Tsunami Of Cash?
Stephen Simpson, CFA
Stephen Simpson, CFA
Thu, Jun. 23, 4:38 PM
- Vincent Bollore, chairman of Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +4.1%), is stepping down from the leadership of its Canal Plus TV division, Bloomberg is reporting.
- He had taken the chair of that unit nine months ago but will step back from the role this summer as the company tries to turn Canal Plus around, a source said.
- Bollore had threatened in April that Canal Plus could shut down its TV channels if the company didn't get regulatory clearance for exclusive distribution of Al Jazeera's BeIN Sports (It didn't).
- Yannick Bollore, Vincent's son, will join Canal Plus' board by the end of 2017 and as soon as this summer, and Vivendi deputy CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine might take Vincent Bollore's chairmanship of Canal Plus over.
Tue, May 31, 12:22 PM
- Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.5%) now has the votes to take over Gameloft (OTCPK:GLOFY) after its unwelcome pursuit of the game maker, according to Les Echos.
- It was the acquisition of Amber Capital's roughly 30% stake earlier this month that made the difference, the paper says. Detailed figures aren't certain but it's expected that Vivendi has a 50%-plus voting stake now.
- Vivendi had accumulated around 15% of Gameloft and Ubisoft (OTCPK:UBSFY +2.2%), each controlled by the Guillemot family, through gradual purchases. It's unclear how much of Gameloft the Guillemots still control.
Thu, May 19, 1:49 PM
- Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -1%) is increasing pressure on a videogame target by raising its hostile bid for Gameloft (OTCPK:GLOFY +3.7%) by 11%, to €8/share.
- The bid was automatically raised under French regulations when the media giant bought a bit of stock at that higher price compared to its €7.2/share bid. Gameloft shares were suspended for the day in Paris, where they were down 0.7% to €7.18.
- The offer is set to expire in eight days, and Gameloft is planning a board meeting to evaluate it.
- After a buildup, Vivendi holds 29.4% of Gameloft (and 26.5% of voting power). And its pursuit of one company may help another bid: Vivendi is also pursuing Ubisoft (OTCPK:UBSFY), controlled as Gameloft is by the Guillemot family.
- Now read UbiSoft Faces The Risk Of Takeover From Vivendi »
Fri, May 13, 7:48 PM
- Recently under new leadership, Telecom Italia (TI -0.3%) says it's tripling its target for cost cuts, to save €1.6B (about $1.8B) by 2018.
- That will be evenly divided between operating cuts and capital expenditures, the company said in a late Friday earnings filing.
- EBITDA fell 16% to €1.71B, short of consensus for €1.81B, and revenues fell 12% to €4.4B, short of expectations for €4.48B in sales.
- CEO Flavio Cattaneo -- who took over in March for Marco Patuano, who clashed with the growing ownership of top shareholder Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -1.5%) -- is pushing to increase profitability at the Italian incumbent carrier, as well as resolve the company's challenges in Brazil.
- TIM Participaçoes (TSU -4.7%), its unit in Brazil, saw revenues decline nearly 16% this quarter amid the country's deep recession and hot competition against Telefonica Brasil (VIV -2.5%). Stefano De Angelis is taking over as TIM's CEO from Rodrigo Abreu.
- Patuano was reportedly inclined to want to hold on to the TIM unit, while Vivendi has actively pushed for a sale.
- After hours: TI +0.3%; TSU -0.2%.
- Now read Is The Deal With Vivendi A Positive Sign For Mediaset? »
Thu, Apr. 21, 10:57 AM
- Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -2%) is actively pushing Telecom Italia (TI -0.1%) toward a sale of its Brazilian unit, TIM Participaçoes (TSU +1.8%), sources tell CTFN.
- The French media giant's stance on TIM was a clear catalyst for the March departure of Marco Patuano as TI's chief executive, as Patuano was inclined to hold on to the business.
- A series of machinations over the past year took place around the possible merger of TIM with debt-laden carrier Oi (OIBR -3.5%) before the prospects of a deal imploded.
- An M&A lawyer said that when Vivendi inherited its Telecom Italia stake in 2014 (via its sale of broadband company GVT to Telefonica), it was already expressing an interest in getting out of Brazil and taking charge of TI as a media platform.
- Rivals Telefonica Brasil (VIV -0.2%) and Claro (AMX +1.5%) aren't likely candidates to take over TIM due to regulatory issues. Oi is surely a candidate again, but more desperate for a move than TIM. Brazil might go for a bid from someone like Vodafone (VOD -0.8%), though.
- Now read Oi's Debt Restructuring: A 4-Player Chess Game »
Wed, Mar. 30, 11:07 AM
- The founding Guillemot family may be increasing its stake in game maker Gameloft (OTCPK:GLOFY) in an effort to resist a hostile tender offer from Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +0.8%).
- CEO Michel Guillemot told Le Monde: "We could go on ... We don't have much debt."
- Vivendi has been in pursuit of Gameloft and Ubisoft (OTCPK:UBSFY +3.6%) -- also founded by the Guillemots -- by increasing stakes in the two amid growing speculation that takeover bids were coming.
- Vivendi launched a tender for Gameloft after it crossed the 30% stake threshold. It raised its offer to €7.20/share on Feb. 29; shares are trading in Paris today up 2.6% to €7.52. Vivendi also owns 15.66% of Ubisoft.
Fri, Mar. 11, 9:27 AM
- A marriage between Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI) and Orange (NYSE:ORAN) is a "fantasy," says TI Chairman Giuseppe Recchi in response to chatter that originated with Orange chief Stephane Richard.
- Richard had said this week that he would look at an operation with TI if Vincent Bollore and France's Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY), TI's largest shareholder, pressed for it. But Recchi said Richard should take responsibility for floating rumors about a tie-up "that is only in his head and ... is causing effects on the media and on the market."
- The kind of consolidation that makes sense from an industrial standpoint are national, Recchi says; with cross-border, "The only synergies are financial and not industrial."
- Orange is also in exclusive talks today to acquire Lexsi, a European security intel services company, for its Orange Cyberdefense unit.
- Orange shares are up 3.8% premarket; Vivendi is up 0.4% in early trading.
Mon, Mar. 7, 7:07 PM
- After reports emerging from a key strategy meeting with Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.4%) last week, Telecom Italia (TI -3.6%) chief Marco Patuano says he's never been asked to sell the company's Brazilian business.
- "Vivendi wants to sell Brazil" -- TIM Participaçoes (TSU -1.5%), the company's Brazilian unit -- "and Patuano does not," a source told Reuters last week.
- Speaking to Il Soe 24 Ore, Patuano says he never received a request and he continued to believe in the Brazilian operation despite that country's recession.
- On the implosion of a possible merger with Oi, Patuano said the company's stance on roles was far from that of LetterOne's Mikhail Fridman, trying to make a deal happen. TI expected to be the "industrial leader" of a merged group.
- As for tensions with Vivendi, which has assembled a large stake in the telecom and might replace him, Patuano says "Managers always respond with their performance and shareholders are always sovereign."
- Previously: Reuters: Telecom Italia pursuing Metroweb network deal within weeks (Mar. 04 2016)
- Previously: Vivendi, Telecom Italia chief on tense course over strategy alignment (Mar. 04 2016)
Fri, Mar. 4, 4:30 PM
- With Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.4%) throwing its weight around in a new strategy -- buying up shares of game makers Ubisoft and Gameloft, and of Italian communications incumbent Telecom Italia (TI +2.8%) -- the heat is on TI chief Marco Patuano to get on board the strategy that Vivendi tycoon Vincent Bollore is pursuing.
- Shares of TI are up 10.5% since Wednesday's strategy meetings between Patuano and Vivendi execs, among speculation that change is coming whether Patuano continues to lead or not.
- A 26-year veteran of the company, Patuano has increased spending on network infrastructure but has had to navigate a tricky mix of shareholders and government. Italy considers the company of strategic interest to the state, potentially complicating a move in from a French billionaire.
- Tensions were present from the time Vivendi first took its stake, and they may be intensifying as Vivendi's stake grows. Patuano struck the deal to sell off TI's control of Telecom Argentina (TEO +0.6%) and spun off its cell towers in a series of moves to address debt, but "Vivendi wants to sell Brazil" -- TIM Participaçoes (TSU +4.8%), the company's Brazilian unit -- "and Patuano does not" since he sees it as strategic, a source tells Reuters.
- Vivendi has built its stake to 23.8%, but has just four of 17 board members at present.
Tue, Mar. 1, 9:22 PM
- After a very resistant Gameloft (OTCPK:GLOFY +6.9%) rejected a €6/share buyout bid from Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +1.3%) as too low, Vincent Bollore's media giant has increased its bid.
- After gradual purchases over the past several months, Vivendi raised its stake to more than 30% two weeks ago, and it's now raising its bid to €7.20/share after a unanimous rejection of the previous offer by Gameloft's board.
- The new bid values Gameloft at about €610M (about $663M). After closing yesterday in Paris at €6.79, shares gained 9.4% today to close at €7.43.
- Gameloft has until Thursday to decide on the new bid, though it hasn't signaled it's receptive to being taken over by the conglomerate at all.
- Meanwhile, Vivendi has also increased its stake in another takeover target, Ubisoft (OTCPK:UBSFY +6.1%), to 15.66%. Ubisoft closed up 6.4% today in Paris.
Thu, Feb. 18, 1:00 PM
- In some shoring up of its home media business, Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY +2.8%) says it's in discussions to become the exclusive distributor of beIN Sports in France and has launched a tender offer for mobile game maker Gameloft (OTCPK:GLOFY).
- Gameloft shares have jumped 8.9% in OTC trading; they're up 1.5% in Paris to €5.48. Vivendi's offer is for €6/share and follows its buildup of a 30% stake in Gameloft.
- Vivendi ADRs are up after the company noted adjusted Q4 profits beat expectations and rose 6% to €196M. Revenues of €3.15B beat an expected €3.1B.
Fri, Jan. 29, 11:03 AM
- Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -2.9%), the top shareholder at Telecom Italia (TI +1.6%), says the debt level at the Italian carrier isn't an obstacle to investments or growth.
- That's according to written comments that chief Arnaud de Puyfontaine provided to the Italian Senate, published today.
- TI has net debt of €27B, and Italian lawmakers want to know whether that needs to be recapitalized, especially as Vivendi takes a more prominent controlling role.
- Vivendi does "not see the company's debt level as a disadvantage for its ability to invest and finance developments it wants to undertake," de Puyfontaine wrote.
- Vivendi's stake in the carrier has risen to 21.4%.
Wed, Jan. 13, 4:21 PM
- Telecom Italia's (TI -2.7%) 2015 went well -- the stock gained more than 30% in Italy, and ADRs appreciated 16.2% -- but there's still reasons to buy this year, says David Marcus, portfolio manager for Evermore Global Value Investor.
- He says the stock is still quite undervalued. "It is the biggest phone company in Italy, but (they) are now undergoing an operational and financial restructuring, plus you have an aggressive investor in Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY) pushing to accelerate everything."
- It's one of the fund's largest holdings. Vivendi's involvement -- looking more like it will take an active role in growing TI's media ambitions -- seems like a positive, he says, and there's more to come. For its part, Vivendi's ADRs lost more than 15% in 2015 trading.
Thu, Jan. 7, 1:25 PM
- Following on a rash of virtual-reality news coming out of CES week -- including hardware from Facebook's Oculus, HTC and Sony -- Universal Music Group (OTCPK:VIVHY +0.4%) is teaming up with iHeartMedia (OTCPK:IHRT -6.4%) to make inroads into VR performances around music superstars.
- There will be six to 10 VR music experiences this year, says iHeartMedia's John Sykes. With the partnership, one VR experience by a UMG artist will be part of each major marquee iHeartMedia event this year, kicking off with the iHeartRadio Music Awards April 3.
- They'll also do four VR concerts together in the second half.
- “We’ll get into the game with the first show and deliver the best possible experience we can with the technology available today, and then the following year it will look better,” Sykes says. “It’s going to be a work-in-progress learning experience.”
Dec. 15, 2015, 2:22 PM
- Vivendi's (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.3%) Vincent Bollore can claim victory in a critical meeting at Telecom Italia (TI +3.8%), after the French firm won its bid to gain four seats on the board and also succeeded in blocking the carrier's savings-stock conversion, which would have diluted voting stakes.
- Vivendi's push to expand TI's board to 17 seats -- adding its Arnaud Roy de Puyfontaine and Stephane Roussel as directors -- gained 53% approval, with about 56% of TI's shares represented.
- The French media conglomerate has built its stake to 20% and Bloomberg reported that it's open to going near 25% ownership. Meanwhile, French billionaire Xavier Niel has also assembled a stake in TI equivalent to just over 15%.
- The move is likely to have ripples well beyond Telecom Italia, as Vivendi holds a different vision for the future of Brazilian unit TIM Participações (TSU +3.9%).
- Aside from diluting the stakes of Vivendi and Niel, the savings-share conversion (of €5.5B) would have raised up to €573M to repay what has become a heavy debt load. "We lost an opportunity for the company," said Chairman Giuseppe Recchi.
- TI shareholders did reject a Vivendi bid to free its representatives from signing non-compete clauses. TI's legal department will review the issue of having directors from a competitor on its board.
- Previously: Vivendi pressing board case as Telecom Italia set to vote (Dec. 14 2015)
- Previously: Vivendi: No plans for merger with Telecom Italia (Dec. 03 2015)
Nov. 6, 2015, 12:02 PM
- Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -0.4%), which has gradually assembled a 20%-plus stake in Telecom Italia (TI -4.1%), won't oppose the latter's savings-share conversion even with the dilution that will come with that, Reuters reports.
- TI is down today after yesterday's quarterly results showed a drop in core earnings driven in large part by continuing deterioration in Brazil.
- Telecom Italia's conversion of 6.03B savings shares will mean cash for debt repayment, up to €573M, but will dilute other holdings, including that of Vivendi's Vincent Bollore and Xavier Niel, who assembled options to 15% of the company.
- Bollore's 20%-plus stake could drop to under 14%, while Niel's options could drop to under 10% of voting power under the conversion.
- The changeover is more attractive now, though, as Niel's entry boosted the share price gap between the ordinary shares and the savings shares (which pay dividends but have no voting power).
Vivendi is one of the few multimedia groups in the world to operate across the entire digital value chain. It creates and publishes content for which it develops broadcast networks and distribution platforms.
Industry: Entertainment - Diversified
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