Vivendi could retain control of telecom group SFR and spin off its more profitable media arm – comprising not only Canal+ and Universal Media Group but also Brazilian telco GVT, according to chairman Jean-René Fourtou.
Interviewed by French daily Le Monde, Fourtou said that a sale of SFR in current market conditions was not on the cards. He said he believed that SFR could recover its market value at the time of Vivendi’s 2011 buyout of Vodafone’s 44% stake in the next three years.
Fourtou’s comments seem to indicate a possible reversal of Vivendi’s recent thinking about the future of SFR, which envisaged the flotation of telco.
Fourtou said he hoped to see the completion of a split between the telecom and media arms within the next few months. He said that the retention of SFR could help sustain Vivendi’s debt and would allow the group to continue to benefit from certain tax advantages. Fourtou told Le Monde that SFR’s agreement to share a single mobile infrastructure with Bouygues Telecom could be followed by other similar agreements.
Fourtou also played down recent suggestions of a deterioration of relations between him and leading shareholder Vincent Bolloré, who joined the Vivendi board after the sale of free-to-air channels D8 and D17 to the group. Fourtou went on to say that Bolloré could be a potential successor as chairman of the spun-off media and content arm.