Vivendi mulls plan to divide company in two

Michael Bow
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UNIVERSAL Music owner Vivendi yesterday said it would consider plans to hive off telecom unit SFR off from the rest of its media business.

The French conglomerate said it would make the decision on cutting loose SFR, a French business, by early 2014.

“Vivendi’s supervisory board has unanimously decided to launch a study to split the group into two separate companies,” it said in a statement yesterday.

“The group is aiming to develop in media on the basis of several growth activities.”

Splitting off the French operator, the second biggest in the country, would give the firm a stronger identity as it seeks to take on bigger rivals in the market.

The standalone media group would focus on its core business of music, movies and TV.

The move came as the company also gave its largest shareholder, industrialist Vincent Bollore, a seat on the board as vice-chairman.

Bollore will be number two to current chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou.

“Vincent Bollore thanked and paid tribute to Mr Fourtou and guaranteed him his full support,” the company said.

The demerger plan is understood to have been in the offing for about a year before yesterday’s announcement.

Once the study is completed, the idea will be put to a shareholder vote at the company’s general meeting.

SFR accounted for about 40 per cent of the group’s revenue last year.

In July the company said it would divest its publisher Activision Blizzard for about $8.2bn