Vivendi break-up eyed as Levy steps down over strategy row

City A.M. Reporter
THE reign of Vivendi chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy ended yesterday in a strategy dispute with the French telecoms and media conglomerate’s supervisory board, paving the way for possible disposals to shake up its flagging share price.

Vivendi, whose shares are at nine-year lows, has been reviewing its conglomerate structure and seeking ideas on how to reverse the stock slump, while its SFR telecom business has been hammered by fresh competition in the French mobile market since January.

Investors are pushing for a break-up of the firm in order to release the full value of its various divisions.

Vivendi has mature telecoms businesses in France and Morocco generating nearly 60 per cent of operating profits, while growth is coming from Brazilian telecom GVT and video games maker Activision Blizzard plus smaller pay-TV and music units including Universal Music.

“Jean-Bernard Levy’s departure clearly makes the divestiture scenario more probable,” said Gilles Guibout, a fund manager at AXA Investment Management in Paris.

“The question is whether he couldn’t have taken tougher steps earlier.”