Vivendi Loses Finance Chief to Veolia as Asset Cuts Near End

Vivendi SA Chief Financial Officer Philippe Capron will move to Veolia Environnement SA, leaving the French conglomerate as it nears the end of asset sales and reorganization to focus on media.

Capron, who helped see Vivendi through a string of acquisitions and divestments over six years, will take the same position at Veolia in January, Europe’s largest water company said today. Veolia Chief Executive Officer Antoine Frerot is seeking to sell assets and cut debt to make the water company less reliant on municipal contracts.

The 55-year-old joined Vivendi in 2007 when Jean-Bernard Levy was CEO. He worked with Levy in acquiring video-game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. and Brazilian Internet provider GVT, and helped in negotiations to buy Vodafone Group Plc’s stake in SFR to gain full control of the French wireless carrier.

Vivendi has since reconsidered its expansion into telecommunications and taken steps to dispose of those assets. Levy was ousted in June 2012 on differences with the board over strategic directions.

The change of CFO comes as Vivendi studies whether to spin off SFR as it assembles what remains into an international media group. Vivendi plans to decide by early next year how to allocate its cash from the asset sales, as well as what to do with SFR. It has yet to name who will lead the new media group.

Maroc Sale

Emirates Telecommunications Corp. this week reached a final agreement to acquire Vivendi’s stake in Maroc Telecom SA for about 4.2 billion euros ($5.7 billion) in the Middle East’s largest takeover of a phone carrier. The sale comes a few months after Vivendi divested a stake in video-game maker Activision and weeks after it resolved a legal battle with Lagardere SA over Canal Plus, giving Vivendi cash to help repay debt and tightening its focus on media.

Vivendi also owns record label Universal Music Group.

The shares rose 0.1 percent to 18.75 euros at 9:52 a.m. in Paris. Veolia climbed 7.2 percent to 13.07 euros after reporting a 20 percent increase in nine-month profit and said the decline in waste handing volumes has slowed.

Capron received 1.03 million euros in total compensation from Vivendi for 2012, data compiled by Bloomberg showed. He will replace Pierre-Francois Riolacci at Veolia, who is joining Air France-KLM.

(Updates with share trading in eighth paragraph.)
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