French defence-to-media conglomerate LagardÃ¨re could make around Â1.3bn from the sale of its 20% stake in pay-TV group Canal Plus if it disposes of the stake early next year, according to analysts interviewed by the Reuters news agency.
LagardÃ¨re must decide by the end of this month whether to exercise an option to increase its stake in the pay-TV operator to 34%, something that the analysts cited by Reuters believe to be unlikely, despite comments by chief executive Arnaud LagardÃ¨re in May that the group might exercise the option and sell its stake on.
Analysts including Edward Hill-Wood of Morgan Stanley believe LagardÃ¨re is more likely to exercise its option to sell the stake in March or April next year following the exit from Canal Plus of TF1 and M6, which hold stakes of 9.9% and 5.1% respectively in the pay-TV provider.
LagardÃ¨re is expected to use the proceeds from any sale to reduce debt and possibly also to make acquisitions in sports rights or publishing. The group is also mulling the sale of its stake in defence group EADS, but any sale is likely only to be after the completion of an investigation by financial regulator the AMF into the sale of shares in the company in 2005-06.
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