Lagardère focused on early exit from Canal Plus

French media and industrial group Lagardère wants to dispose of its stake in Canal Plus and disengage from the pay TV group “as quickly as possible”, according to chief financial officer Dominique D’Hinnin, speaking on a call to mark the company’s first-half results.

D’Hinnin said that Lagardère wanted to restart talks with Canal Plus’s management to agree the timing of any move.

CEO Arnaud Lagardère, speaking on the same call, said that he wasn’t sure that market conditions had improved sufficiently to enable a public offering of the 20% stake, but that the company remained focused on relaunching the plan as quickly as possible and disposing of its interest, “even if there’s still uncertainty”.

Lagardère Active, the company’s media arm, saw its first half revenues fall by 3.7% to €450 million on a like-for-like basis. Revenues for Lagardère Active fell by 44.2% overall as a result of the disposal of the company’s PMI arm and radio stations in Russia. However, audiovisual production and TV channels saw growth of 13.5% and 2.7% respectively.

Canal Plus meanwhile posted overall first half revenues of €950 million, up 2.6%, and net income of €21 million, down 10.6%. The pay TV operator’s total subscriber base across France, its overseas territories and departments and Africa numbered 5.5 million, up by 174,000 year-on-year.

The Canal Plus website saw a 107% rise in video views between May 2011 and May 2012, with the site’s unique users growing by 79% to 4.7 million in the same period.

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