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Universal owner bids for Dailymotion, as Chairman increases his stake

By | Published on Tuesday 7 April 2015


Universal Music Group owner Vivendi has confirmed it is bidding for YouTube rival Dailymotion, currently owned by Orange, after Hong Kong-based telecoms group PCCW withdrew its offer for the video site, seemingly in protest at interference by the French government.

Orange acquired half of Dailymotion in 2011, taking complete ownership of the French video site in 2013. The proposed PCCW deal would have seen the Hong Kong company take a 49% stake, but last week the French government, which owns about a third of Orange, said the company should “explore all offers” before doing a deal that took even part ownership of Dailymotion outside of Europe.

PCCW didn’t respond well to that interference, and withdrew its offer yesterday saying in a statement: “An environment where policies appear to favour a French or European solution is discouraging for international business participation. We will therefore withdraw from our discussions with Dailymotion and its current owners”.

Also France-based Vivendi, of course, has been busy offloading various business units for a few years now, with current management seemingly keen to use the profits of that activity to expand the group’s interests in the entertainment space.

Rumours it would now bid for Dailymotion began circulating overnight, and the firm confirmed it was indeed bidding this morning. It is thought Vivendi is seeking a majority share in the video site of up to 80% in a deal worth about €250 million.

If successful, it would put Universal Music in common ownership with a key-if-much-smaller YouTube rival, which might put an interesting spin on the mega-major’s future negotiations with the Google-owned video site.

Elsewhere in Vivendi news, the group’s Chairman Vincent Bolloré has increased his stake in the company, buying 24.6 million shares to take his overall shareholding to just over 12%. The move comes amidst the previously reported squabble between the Vivendi board and P Schoenfeld Asset Management, which controls nearly 1% of the firm.

PSAM has expressed concerns about the current strategy of Vivendi management and has suggested it should consider selling the Universal Music Group. Though you sense PSAM’s increasingly vocal dissatisfaction is in no small part linked to a resentment over Bolloré boosting his influence at Vivendi over the last couple of years.