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Vivendi’s GVT Unit Subscriber Numbers Growing 50%, Levy Says

Vivendi SA’s Brazilian unit GVT Holding SA is seeing subscriber growth of 50 percent, allowing it to increase revenue by 40 percent, Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy said.

Speaking at a roundtable at an Abu Dhabi media conference, Levy said Vivendi plans to start a pay-television service in Brazil by the end of the year. In the short-to-medium term, the company has no plans for mobile services in the market, the CEO of the Paris-based company said.

“What we are focused on is very quick growth of the company, doubling the size every two years and launch of pay TV before end 2011,” he said.

Levy is focusing on growth in Brazil, while also seeking to take full control of Vivendi’s two units at home -- SFR, France’s second-biggest mobile-phone operator, and Canal Plus France, the country’s biggest pay-television operator. The company owns 80 percent of Canal Plus France, with Lagardere SCA holding the rest. Vivendi owns 56 percent of SFR, and has said it wants to buy Vodafone Group Plc’s 44 percent stake.

“We are in situation where a potential transaction could be prepared,” Levy reiterated. “At the right price, there would be interest in Vivendi to acquire 100 percent of SFR.”

If the transaction happens, Vivendi has sufficient loans from current banking arrangements, Levy said, adding that the company wouldn’t sell new shares to finance the deal. In a speech at the same conference, he reiterated that the company will focus on assets where Vivendi has full control.

Canal Plus

On Canal Plus, Lagardere has said it plans an initial public offering of all or a part of its 20 percent stake. Vivendi has expressed an interest in buying that stake, although the two sides have disagreed on the price.

“Only Lagardere has the ability to stop that process to IPO,” Levy said. “We have contact with Lagadere. We made a proposal to Lagadere a few weeks ago that they rejected.”

If conditions are not met Vivendi will stay at 80 percent ownership, Levy said.

Levy said he’s also concerned about the lack of progress in China on “putting in place a true intellectual property rights policy,” adding that “I don’t believe they have considered it a priority.” Vivendi’s sales in China are comparable with “the kind of revenue you’d find in a small eastern European country,” he said.

The company will also invest and seek partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa, the CEO said.

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