Why a R200 billion French media giant wants to buy Multichoice and DStv

 ·8 Mar 2024

Media conglomerate Vivendi SE (market cap of ~R212 billion) is preparing to consult with investors and employees on its plan to split into four listed units as it seeks better value from its assets, which span from pay-TV to ads, music and publishing.

The “study of the plan is ongoing,” Vivendi Chairman Yannick Bolloré said in an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday. The consultations will begin soon and weigh tax, legal and financial aspects, he added.

Since listing its most valuable business, Universal Music Group NV, Vivendi said its stock price has suffered, limiting growth opportunities for its subsidiaries. Bolloré estimates the company’s discount to the value of its parts before announcing the plan for the split was 40% to 45%.

Oddo analyst Jerome Bodin in December estimated that a split could translate into valuations of about €6.1 billion ($6.7 billion) for Canal+ and about €3 billion for Havas. The investment structure holding the Lagardère stake could fetch a value of about €4.9 billion, he said at the time.

Vivendi shares fell 2% to €10.05 in Paris at 10h19 on Friday, giving the company a market value of €10.4 billion. The stock had earlier dropped as much as 4.7%, the biggest intraday decline since May.

If approved, the split could happen from December to summer 2025 and could include listings outside of Paris. “We are contemplating the different options,” said Bolloré, who is the chief executive officer of Vivendi’s advertising firm Havas and is one of billionaire corporate raider Vincent Bolloré’s four children

Vivendi plans to split and list:

  • Pay-TV group Canal+;
  • Ad agency Havas;
  • Its publishing arm that includes Lagardère; and
  • An investment vehicle encompassing stakes in Universal and Telecom Italia SpA.

The company published its fourth quarter results on Thursday, posting revenue of €3.39 billion for the period, including Lagardère revenue for December after the company was acquired and consolidated.

Pay-TV group Canal+ is the company’s largest unit, accounting for more than half of sales and earnings. In 2023, it posted revenue of €6.1 billion and €525 million in earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization.

Vivendi is currently expanding Canal+ in new markets, with investments in Swedish player Viaplay, Hong Kong-based streamer Viu, and Africa. This week, Canal+ increased its bid for South Africa’s MultiChoice Group Ltd. by almost a fifth and entered exclusive talks on acquiring control of the African broadcaster.

“The challenge for Canal+ is to broaden its subscriber base to amortize its content on a larger scale,” Yannick Bolloré said. The group had 26.4 million subscribers at the end of 2023 and the MultiChoice acquisition will help reach its target of 50 million subscribers worldwide, he said.

Investors have been watching to see whether Vincent Bolloré — Vivendi’s controlling shareholder — tries to raise his stake in the company to win greater control over the media business and take it in new directions.

If the split goes through, the family will have a war chest to pursue further operations as a controlling shareholder of various media groups after its investment vehicle, Bollore SE, divested its transport and logistics business.

Read: Canal+ makes new and improved offer for MultiChoice

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter