Vivendi heir vows to prove business works as an integrated group

The inheritor to Vincent Bolloré’s media group has pledged to show that Vivendi is a coherent firm and never a disparate set of holdings, a objective that has been promised many occasions however not but achieved by the family-backed enterprise.

“The problem we now have at Vivendi is to show that we’re an built-in industrial group, current all through the worth chain of leisure, media and tradition and never a conglomerate of shareholdings,” Yannick Bolloré advised the Monetary Occasions, one 12 months after his father, company raider and industrialist Vincent Bolloré, formally retired from the corporate.

“This is able to enable us to cut back the holding low cost, which might create a number of worth,” Bolloré added.

Vivendi is at some extent of transition, each by way of the elder Bolloré stepping again from the limelight and the composition of the group. Vincent Bolloré first invested within the French group roughly a decade in the past and has since held a minority stake of slightly below 30 per cent. But as chairman he has additionally lengthy set its course.

He presided over the slimming down of the corporate by way of asset gross sales and added promoting company Havas. The latest sale got here when Vivendi spun out its greatest and most beneficial enterprise by way of a list of Common Music Group two years in the past. That left it with a a lot smaller enterprise in pay-TV with Canal Plus, Havas and a few print magazines.

Whereas UMG — wherein the stakes of the Vivendi and Bolloré household holding firms mix to make them the largest shareholder — is now valued at greater than €40bn, a slimmed down Vivendi is at the moment valued at €10.8bn. 

The youthful Bolloré, who grew to become chair of Vivendi’s supervisory board in 2018 and stays chief govt of Havas, now faces the problem of turning Vivendi right into a extra cohesive group. He introduced a plan final 12 months to knit collectively the group’s holdings — as an example, utilizing materials developed in its publishing homes to develop tv collection for Canal+ — whereas rising its companies exterior France.

The group is now negotiating with European competitors authorities within the hopes of getting approval for its proposed takeover of French media and retail group Lagardère, which owns guide writer Hachette, the world’s third-largest writer. However because it already owns Editis, a French-focused publishing enterprise with important market share, regulators have demanded that this be offered.

Vivendi had proposed to regulators that it spin out Editis in a so-called share distribution and promote its remaining stake in a two-stage course of.

Yannick Bolloré mentioned he anticipated to have a remaining response from the EU on shopping for Lagardère by early summer time, following conferences in Brussels final week.

“Brussels had most popular the best answer [of an outright sale] and the share distribution isn’t widespread, so [it is] somewhat new. Brussels is open to new concepts however needs to make certain about them,” he mentioned.

Three events — an alliance of businessmen Stéphane Courbit, Daniel Kretinsky and Pierre-Edouard Stérin, Canadian group Quebecor and media group Reworld — have submitted bids for the Bolloré holding firm’s remaining stake in Editis after the spinout, with the client anticipated to be chosen quickly.

Vivendi on Wednesday reported an annual web lack of €1bn after revaluing and eradicating its stake in indebted group Telecom Italia from its steadiness sheet, having recorded document earnings of €24.7bn in 2021 following the itemizing of UMG.

Revenues rose 10 per cent to €9.6bn. When the contribution from Vivendi’s stakes in Lagardère and UMG had been excluded, earnings earlier than curiosity, tax, amortisation and depreciation grew 10 per cent to €646mn.

Vivendi shares have fallen roughly 9 per cent up to now 12 months, in contrast with a 17 per cent rise for the Stoxx 600 Europe Media index.

Canal+ has been betting on worldwide enlargement to develop and now has round two-thirds of its subscribers exterior France. The broadcaster additionally not too long ago elevated its shareholding in South African pay-TV operator MultiChoice to greater than 30 per cent, slightly below the edge that will set off a compulsory provide to shareholders.

The 2 complement one another geographically. Canal+ operates throughout a lot of west Africa, whereas MultiChoice spreads throughout the south and centre of the continent.

“The concept for Canal+ is to develop its subscriber base to make its content material obtainable to a wider base of subscribers both by acquisitions or partnerships,” Bolloré mentioned. “The concept is to create a gaggle or neighborhood of firms that may compete with huge tv platforms.”

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