Orange has denied that it has struck a deal with Vivendi to take stakes in Canal+ and Telecom Italia, following a French press report that the telco could take a 20% stake in the French pay TV operator as well as a stake in Telecom Italia.
An Orange spokesman told Reuters that the company denied having reached “any kind of secret deal” with Vivendi while conceding that Orange was constantly involved in conversations with content players.
According to Challenges.fr, which did not identify its sources, the idea of the tie-up is linked to former Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier and the mergers and acquisitions consultancy he founded with former Lazard Brothers executive Erik Maris, Messier Maris.
According to the magazine, the plan could see Orange take a 20% stake in Vivendi-owned Canal+, while Vivendi would sell part of its 24.9% in Telecom Italia to the French operator.
The magazine says that the deal is still far from being finalised, but that Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré and Orange CEO Stéphane Richard have had detailed discussions.
Challenges.fr cited a source close to Richard as saying that an entry into Italy was would be an obvious move while denying that this could be linked to an alliance with Vivendi and an entry into Canal+.
Any tie-up with Vivendi could attract the attention of the French state, which is a shareholder in Orange.