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Vivendi confirms split plan under consideration

By | Published on Thursday 12 September 2013


The board of Universal Music owner Vivendi yesterday confirmed that they were now studying a plan to split the group into two companies, one consisting of flagging French telecoms business SFR, the other it’s two remaining entertainment assets, the Universal music empire and French TV firm Canal+.

There has been talk of Vivendi offloading SFR for some time, though yesterday’s announcement confirms a plan for realising that aim is now being formally developed. Having recently sold its controlling stake in gaming giant Activision, the cutting off of SFR would leave Vivendi with only two main businesses, though a new series of acquisitions would likely follow.

The other big announcement yesterday was that Vincent Bolloré had been appointed Vice-Chairman of the company. As previously reported, Bolloré is a key shareholder in the company (with a 5% stake) and a board member, and has clashed of late with the firm’s Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou over the appointment of a new CEO to replace Jean-Bernard Levy, who left over a year ago.

It is thought that Bolloré, previously tipped to succeed Fourtou as Chairman, has actually put himself forward for the CEO job. Whether or not that will happen, his appointment as Vice-Chair means that Bolloré will definitely play a key role in deciding the future direction of the company.

Though yesterday he denied any animosity between him and Fourtou, despite disagreements about the CEO appointment. He told the Financial Times: “He is a friend, I have a lot of admiration for him. We can work together. People shouldn’t expect a fight [between us]. They should expect success”.