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TVN Falls as Canal Plus to Acquire Minority Stake in Owner

TVN SA shares fell as much as 7.5 percent in Warsaw trading after Canal Plus of France agreed to acquire a “significant minority stake” in N-Vision BV, which holds 51 percent of Poland’s largest television network.

The stock declined to 11.77 zloty, the lowest since Aug. 23, and traded 3.2 percent lower at 12.32 zloty at 11:42 a.m. Under Polish law an investor who buys 33 percent or more in a publicly traded company must make a public bid to increase the stake to at least 66 percent.

“Investors are disappointed that there is no strategic investor and that there won’t be a public tender” for TVN shares, Dariusz Gorski, an analyst at Bank Zachodni WBK SA, said by phone today. “The positive side is the merging of those two platforms. The question is who will pay for the integration and upgrade of their systems.”

Additionally, Vivendi SA’s Canal Plus unit has an option to buy the remaining part of the controlling stake in TVN “over time” from N-Vision’s parent ITI Holdings SA, according to an e-mailed statement late yesterday from ITI, which didn’t give the value of the deal.

TVN and Canal Plus are expected to merge their Polish satellite pay-TV businesses in a joint venture, ITI said. The new company, in which TVN will hold a “significant minority” stake, will have more than 2.5 million subscribers, ITI said, without giving the timeframe of the agreement. The new company will compete with Cyfrowy Polsat SA, the country’s largest satellite TV operator, which has about 3.5 million customers.

Soccer Rights

TVN’s N unit, which had 826,000 subscribers at the end of June, holds rights to show UEFA soccer Champions League games in Poland through 2015. Canal Plus’s unit, with 1.5 million clients, has rights to show English Premier League, Spanish Primera Liga, Italian Seria A and France’s Ligue 1 soccer in Poland in addition to Polish Ekstraklasa soccer league, speedway and basketball events.

Karol Smolag, a spokesman for TVN, declined to comment beyond the ITI statement. Jean-Louis Erneux, a spokesman for Vivendi, also declined to comment.

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