Vivendi Finalizing $1.3 Billion Deal to Buy Lagardere Stake in Canal Plus

Vivendi and Lagardere have nearly reached a deal over the minority stake in French pay-TV giant Canal Plus, following years of negotiations and a months-long legal battle over cash management between the two French media companies.

Vivendi, which owns 80 percent of Canal Plus, will acquire the remaining 20 percent from Lagardere group for nearly $1.38 billion (€1 billion), according to French business newspaper Les Echos. It reported a tentative deal was reached Sunday night and will be finalized this week.

Lagardere issued a brief statement Monday morning confirming the reports. “Lagardere has announced further discussions with Vivendi to reach an agreement on Canal Plus France,” it said. The two companies are said to be finalizing a purchase price, with Lagardere valuing the stake at $1.58 billion (€1.15 billion) and Vivendi valuing it at around $1.24 (€900 million).
A spokesperson from Vivendi declined to comment to questions from The Hollywood Reporter.

UBS analyst Polo Tang framed the move as positive for Lagardere as it will benefit from the immediate impact of the deal, but a bad one for Vivendi. “We see Canal Plus France as a low-growth asset that has been impacted by competition from BeIN Sport. The acquisition would also reduce shareholder returns for Vivendi,” he said.

The two companies have been feuding since February, when Lagardere sued Vivendi for $2.21 billion (€1.6 billion) in damages stemming from what Lagardere said was the misuse of Canal Plus cash surpluses by parent company Vivendi.

Lagardere has been trying to sell its minority shares for years and even attempted an IPO of its stake in 2011.

Vivendi has been trying to reposition itself as a media group, readying for an IPO of its telecom subsidiary SFR and restructuring to focus on its media holdings including Universal Music Group. It sold off a chunk of its shares in a buyback deal with Activision Blizzard in October, though it still holds 12 percent of the video game giant.